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VP Sara says OVP asked Palace for confidential funds in 2022

Vice President Sara Duterte on Monday said that the Office of the Vice President requested confidential funds in August 2022 and received the allocations in December that year. 

Duterte thus said during the deliberation of the Senate Committee on Finance on the proposed P2.385-billion budget of the OVP for 2024.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III asked Duterte if it was true that Malacañang charged to its contingent fund and transferred to the OVP P221.4 million.

Of the amount, the OVP liquidated P125 million as confidential funds.

"The amount is correct and that is correct, we requested confidential funds to the Office of the President as early as August 2022 and we were only granted the confidential funds in December 2022," Duterte said. 

Pimentel raised a legal issue during the hearing, saying that there was no item in the OVP budget for confidential expenses in 2022.

"It’s nothing, it’s zero. It’s not even mentioned in the line budgeting for the OVP and yet at year’s end calendar 2022, we will now have an entry [of] P125 million charged to a line which did not exist at the very beginning," Pimentel said. 

Duterte said the Department of Budget and Management would be in a better position to answer Pimentel's legal question.

"We requested it from the Office of the President and it was granted through the Department of Budget and Management. I think the Department of Budget and Management can better answer the question on the transfer of funds from their source to the Office of the Vice President," Duterte said. 

She said the OVP had complied "with the reportorial requirements of the use of the funds as confidential funds."

The Commission on Audit (COA), in its 2022 Annual Audit Report, disclosed that the OVP had P125 million in confidential expenses last year despite not having an appropriation for intelligence or confidential funds under the 2022 GAA.

Earlier, Duterte said there was nothing irregular or unauthorized in the utilization of the P125 million even if such an item was not provided under last year's GAA.

She also said the OVP had already planned and identified events, activities, and projects that would be covered by the confidential fund as early as August 2022— two months after she took her oath as the 15th Vice President of the country. —NB, GMA Integrated News