VP Sara Duterte faces 3rd petition over 2022 secret funds
The Makabayan bloc will join the fray and ask the Supreme Court to declare the P125-million confidential expenses of Vice President Sara Duterte in 2022 as unconstitutional.
Incumbent and former lawmakers of the progressive bloc will file a petition on Monday before the high court to compel Duterte to return the funds she spent to the national treasury.
The present set of Makabayan lawmakers will be joined by former representatives of Bayan Muna party list, including its chair Neri Colmenares, and former Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat.
“There’s strong legal basis to challenge the constitutionality of confidential funds. The vice president had no expressly provided authority to use it,” said Gabriela Women’s Rep. Arlene Brosas.
In an online press briefing on Friday, the Makabayan bloc announced its intention to file the third petition challenging Duterte’s 2022 confidential expenses in the Supreme Court.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said they will ask the high court to declare the expenses as unconstitutional because there was no line item for confidential funds in the 2022 national budget.
“Our prayer in the petition is one, for this P125 million expense to be declared unconstitutional and two, for this to be returned to the national treasury. We also want the officials involved to be accountable,” said Castro, the House deputy minority leader.
The Makabayan bloc made the remarks days after the Supreme Court en banc told Duterte, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, and Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman to comment on petitions assailing the P125 million transfer from the contingency fund to the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) confidential fund in 2022.
There are two petitions in the Supreme Court that sought to declare this expense as unconstitutional.
The first was filed last Nov. 7 by legal and economic experts, including former Commission on Elections chair Augusto Lagman, constitutionalist Christian Monsod, former finance undersecretary Maria Cielo Magno, and lawyer Ibarra Gutierrez III.
The second petition was filed on Nov. 15 by former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, lawyer Manuel “Chel” Diokno, and former Sen. Richard Gordon.
In past years, the Makabayan bloc has repeatedly criticized the ballooning confidential and intelligence funds of then-President Rodrigo Duterte and government agencies.
It was only this year that critics of confidential and intelligence funds scored a partial victory when the House of Representatives heeded public outcry and reallocated P1.23 billion in confidential funds to government agencies defending the West Philippine Sea.
The reallocation also led to Duterte losing her P650 million in confidential funds for the OVP and Department of Education for 2024.