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VP Sara asks SC to dismiss petitions vs. confidential funds

VP Sara asks SC to dismiss petitions vs. confidential funds

The camp of Vice President Sara Duterte has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss petitions filed against the transfer of P125 million confidential funds to the OVP in 2022.

In a 19-page consolidated comment, Duterte argued that the petitions must be denied as they do not show an actual case or controversy. She also said that the petitions do not allege that she exercised grave abuse of discretion.

“No question, no matter how interesting or compelling, can be answered by this Court if it cannot be shown that there is an ‘actual and antagonistic assertion of rights by one party against the other in a controversy wherein judicial intervention is unavoidable’,” it read.

The first petition, filed in November 2023, sought the return of the OVP’s confidential funds to the government treasury. It asked the court to declare the transfer as “unconstitutional.”

The petitioners were former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Augusto Lagman,  1987 Constitution framer Christian Monsod, former Department of Finance Undersecretary Maria Cielo Magno, Chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Imelda Nicolas, Atty. Ibarra Gutierrez III, Katrina Monsod, Ray Paolo Santiago, Honorio Poblador III, Vicente Romano III, Rex Drilon, and Miguel Jugo.

Meanwhile, Makabayan bloc representatives filed the second petition against the OVP’s confidential funds in December 2023. Similarly, they sought the return of the funds and for its transfer to be declared as void and unconstitutional.

Several lawyers, priests, and law students also asked the Court to declare null and void the order and circular that covers the disbursement of confidential and intelligence funds in general.

Among the petitioners were Justice Antonio Carpio, Atty. Howard Calleja, JP Calleja, and former senator Richard Gordon.

In its comment, Duterte's camp stressed that for a court to exercise its judicial power, there must be an actual case or controversy, the petitioner has legal standing, the question of constitutionality is raised at the earliest opportunity, and that the constitutional question is the very lis mota of the case.

“None of the petitions present an ‘actual case or controversy’ and none of the petitioners alleged a ‘legally demandable and enforceable right,’ which calls for the exercise of ‘Judicial Power.’ The petitions are mere apprehension and speculation about contingent funds or confidential funds, which does not constitute a justiciable controversy,” it read.

“It is important to state that courts do not sit to adjudicate mere academic questions to satisfy scholarly interest therein, however intellectually solid the problem may be,” it added.

In August 2023, Duterte maintained that there was "nothing irregular or unauthorized" about how the funds were spent. It was COA that initially disclosed that the OVP spent P125 million in 11 days in December 2022. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News