OVP spent P125 million confidential funds in 11 days

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
OVP spent P125 million confidential funds in 11 days
Vice President Sara Duterte
STAR / Mong Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of Vice President Sara Duterte spent the controversial P125-million confidential funds in 2022 in just 11 days, the Commission on Audit (COA) confirmed yesterday.

The COA made the disclosure during yesterday’s fifth day of plenary debates on House Bill 8980 or the 2024 General Appropriations Bill at the House of Representatives.

Through its budget sponsor, House committee on appropriations senior vice president Stella Luz Quimbo, the COA corrected Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, who sought confirmation on the disposition of the P125 million in confidential fund.

Brosas and the other Makabayan bloc lawmakers earlier reported that the controversial funding was spent in 19 days. The budget was granted to the OVP for the year 2022 by the Office of the President.

“In truth, I was also surprised when I heard the news that it was spent within 19 days so I asked COA and reviewed various reports. It was obligated not within 19 days but 11 days instead,” Quimbo, Marikina representative, said.

To this, a surprised Brosas replied: “It’s hard to comprehend that if that is for surveillance, how many reward payments have been made to spend P11 million per day… Did OVP submit liquidation report to the Office of the President, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House?”

Quimbo replied in the affirmative, noting that the liquidation report was submitted by the OVP on Jan. 17, 2023.

She added that at present, COA is still doing an audit of such expenses but the agency was already able to submit its preliminary observation or audit observation memorandum (AOM) to the OVP.

The agency has committed to finish the audit of the confidential fund by Nov. 15.

Quimbo underscored that AOM is “confidential in nature” but issuing it conveys COA’s request for additional documents from the OVP to shed light on certain expenses.

The COA has a proposed budget of P13.360 billion out of the P5.678 trillion in the national budget for 2024.

Duterte has yet to respond to COA’s findings. But in a statement sent to reporters, the OVP said that “we have not yet received an AOM from COA.” — Neil Jayson Servallos

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