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Party-list coalition backs Speaker Romualdez amid criticism over funds

The coalition of party-list groups in the House of Representatives has expressed its support for Speaker Martin Romualdez in the wake of criticisms over supposed discretionary funds.

The 57-member Party-list Coalition Foundation, Inc. (PCFI) said it appreciated Romualdez "for his defense of the institution, ensuring the rightful representation of 300 legislators as mandated by the Constitution."

The statement was signed by Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co, the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations and president of the PCFI; BHW Rep. Angelica Natasha Co; GP Rep. Jose Gay Padiernos; TGP Rep. Jose Teves Jr.; and TUCP Rep. Raymund Democrito Mendoza.

"Among his extraordinary actions was the transfer of confidential funds from several civilian agencies to bolster the protection of the West Philippine Sea," the group said.

In an interview on SMNI last week, Duterte defended the proposed confidential funds of his daughter Vice President Sara Duterte in the 2024 budget.

He also claimed that Romualdez was "swallowing" discretionary or pork barrel funds, and that the COA should concern itself with that.

House secretary general Reginald Velsaco has said that its public fund expenditures are all aboveboard as certified by the Commission on Audit (COA).

“The House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Martin Romualdez, is in agreement with former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that government expenditures should be transparent and fully auditable. As per the latest COA report released only last October 2, the House of Representatives has no disallowances. No notice of suspension and no notice of charge,” House Secretary General Reginald Velasco said in a statement.

“Ibig pong sabihin, pasado kami sa COA audit,” he added.

(This means, we passed the COA audit.)

The House earlier realigned the proposed confidential funds of the Office of the Vice President, Department of Education, and two other agencies, to agencies directly in charge of ensuring national security:

  • P300 million to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency;
  • P100 million to the National Security Council;
  • P200 million to the Philippine Coast Guard for intelligence activities and ammunition; and
  • P381.8 million to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for airport development/expansion of Pag-asa Island Airport

“This decision showcases his prudent and thoughtful approach, echoing our commitment as representatives to listen and respond to the voices of our fellow Filipinos,” the PCFI said. —NB, GMA Integrated News