Makabayan to question VP’s P125 million CIF before Supreme Court

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Makabayan to question VP�s P125 million CIF before Supreme Court
Members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan troop to the House of Representatives along Batasan Road in Quezon City on September 26, 2023 to demand the abolition of confidential funds in different government agencies.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Another petition questioning the constitutionality of the P125-million confidential funds received by the Office of Vice President (OVP) Sara Duterte in 2022 will be filed at the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday.

This latest petition will be lodged by partylist representatives France Castro of ACT Teachers, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s and Raoul Manuel of Kabatan, as well as former Bayan Muna representatives Neri Colminares, Eufemia Cullamat, Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite.

“The Vice President did not have an expressly provided authority to use the funds which has become a well of corruption and used to conduct aggressive surveillance and harassment against progressive groups and individuals,” she noted in Filipino.

For her part, Castro underscored that they believed that the disbursement of the P125 million by the OVP had violated the Constitution because they were not included in the approved budget for 2022.

She added they also want the funds to be returned to the nation’s coffers and for those involved in the funding to be held accountable.

This will be the third petition to be filed with SC against the P125-million secret funds.

The first petition was filed by a group of legal and economic experts led by former Commission on Elections chair Christian Monsod, while the second petition was filed by retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former senator Richard Gordon, among others.

The secret fund was not included in the General Appropriations Act for 2022 that was approved by Congress.

Duterte had written the Department of Budget and Management for P250 million in secret fund but only P125 million was granted with the approval of President Marcos.

The funding was reportedly covered by rules and regulations on good governance and social services.

During the budget hearing at the House of Representatives on the proposed budget of OVP for 2023, it turned out that Duterte had spent the P125 million in just 11 days.

‘Alter egos’

“You sing out of tune, you either get out or are kicked out.”

Thus said former senator Leila de Lima on the criticism of Duterte of the decision of President Marcos to restart peace negotiations after a six-year hiatus, to end decades of armed strife.

“No self-respecting Cabinet in the world will tolerate a rogue minister who publicly challenges executive/Cabinet policy. That is a given. My observation is not personal to Sara. It is just the way Cabinets all over the world work,” De Lima said in a statement.

De Lima added that all Cabinet secretaries are alter egos of the President. “An alter ego cannot have a different mind than the President. That is why it is an alter ego. Otherwise, it is a separate ego when you regularly oppose your principal.”

“Maybe she is voicing contrary policy statements because she thinks it’s her role as VP. As VP she can do that,” De Lima said. “But she must not forget that she is still a Cabinet secretary bound to alter ego principle in the executive branch. If she wants to keep voicing contrary policy positions to the Cabinet, she should be shorn of her alter ego role first. She cannot eat her cake and keep it too.”

De Lima pointed out that “the problem with the VP is her mindset that she is a president-in-waiting or worse, a co-president entitled to oppose the President in his own Cabinet. She cannot do that.”

“As a matter of principle, no Cabinet minister in the world can do that without being challenged by the Cabinet to stop singing a divergent tune. If you are out of tune, you will be removed from the choir,” she added.

She also said, “I’ve been ridiculed for my call for VP Sara to resign as DepEd secretary. Let me further elucidate – this is nothing new. In all governments in the world, a Cabinet minister is only expected to resign as such once s/he voices out different policies than the Cabinet publicly.”

De Lima was referring to Sen. Imee Marcos’ reaction to her call for Duterte to resign as education secretary after she openly opposed the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the grant of amnesty to former rebels.

“Dream on!” Marcos said on Wednesday when asked by Senate reporters for her take on the call of De Lima for Duterte to resign from the Cabinet. — Cecille Suerte Felipe

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