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Sara slams critics’ ‘lies… dirty imagination’

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Sara slams critics� �lies� dirty imagination�
“I believe the lies they peddled to the public will eventually lose their charm and the OVP and DepEd will persist, be vindicated and realize their aspirations for the Filipinos and the country,” Duterte said in a statement.
STAR / Mong Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — Without addressing specific concerns about the Office of the Vice President (OVP)’s confidential funds, Vice President Sara Duterte claimed yesterday that the criticisms were lies and insisted that the funds were not accessed illegally.

“I believe the lies they peddled to the public will eventually lose their charm and the OVP and DepEd will persist, be vindicated and realize their aspirations for the Filipinos and the country,” Duterte said in a statement.

While Malacañang said the confidential funds acquired by the OVP for its 2022 budget were made through budget adjustments, critics argued that Congress did not allocate the funding and is, therefore, a “non-existent” item under the law or the General Appropriations Act.

Lawmakers said budgetary items that do not exist under the GAA cannot be augmented.

Duterte has yet to respond to queries regarding these concerns, but in her statement, she singled out ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Sen. Risa Hontiveros for “fabricating lies” about the OVP 2022 confidential funds.

“It’s a shame they still cannot produce any proof to support their dirty imagination. The indignity they have caused Congress and the Senate should be enough for us not to give them serious attention,” she said.

But the three-man Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, in essence, insisted that Duterte should just return the P125-M confidential funds her office used in just 19 days, if the OVP could not account for it.

“Since the VP was not entitled to CF in 2022, she should disclose how she spent every centavo of the P125 million in 19 days. The public has the right to know,” Castro insisted.

She also called on the Commission on Audit to “revisit” its 2022 audit of the OVP, “specifically the transfer and use of the CF.”

“At the very minimum, we expect that it (COA) will issue a disallowance and order the VP to return the P125 million to the public coffers… She should return the money of the people. We will remain steadfast in holding the highest officials accountable for their use and misuse of public funds,” Castro stressed.

“This is an extravagant use of taxpayers’ money for an agency whose mandate has no direct involvement in national security, intelligence gathering, or law enforcement,” Castro declared.

The opposition lawmaker repeated that Duterte – a former Davao City mayor – spent the P125 million in 19 days. “DBM and OVP records show that she received the Confidential Fund on Dec. 13 and reported it fully disbursed on Dec. 31, 2022,” she said.

For Hontiveros, Duterte should just defend publicly the proposed confidential funds included in the national budget for next year.

“Just work, no drama,” said Hontiveros. “I thought, VP Sara, the OVP can live without confidential funds? Why do you seem to be sweating there, it’s just the budget hearing. All agencies release a proposed budget.” — Cecille Suerte Felipe, Delon Porcalla

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