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Lawmakers eye impeachment case vs Vice President Sara

Janvic Mateo, Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives is looking into the possibility of filing an impeachment case against Vice President Sara Duterte for allegedly using P125 million in confidential funds (CF) in 2022 without “congressional authorization.”

Duterte, on the other hand, welcomed an investigation into her office’s use of CF in 2022.

In a statement, Duterte responded to allegations made by Deputy Minority Leader and ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, who questioned the additional P125 million in CF that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) received after Duterte took office.

The Vice President did not respond to the specific allegations of Castro, saying the lawmaker “does not deserve an explanation.”

“All she did was wildly and masterfully arrange some allegations against me and the OVP, which will all be answered once the probe is done and during the budget hearing,” said Duterte.

“Meanwhile, I hope she finds gratification and great joy over the thought of my impeachment from office. Enjoy,” she added.

Earlier yesterday, Castro said Makabayan lawmakers will wait first for the reaction from the Commission on Audit (COA) before filing an impeachment complaint.

Last month, The STAR reported that the OVP received an additional budget of P233.7 million, including P125 million in CF, after Duterte took office in 2022.

A COA report confirmed that the OVP’s budget ballooned to P947.1 million as of the end of 2022, up from the original P713.4 million allocated in Republic Act 11936 or the General Appropriations Act of 2022.

It said the increase in the agency’s allotment for maintenance and other operating expenses was “due to the release of additional allotment” for medical assistance and confidential expense.

COA said the confidential expenses “pertains to the expenses for the safe implementation of various projects and activities under the Good Governance Program and the conduct of official engagements, and functional representation in international and domestic events as instructed by the President.”

Castro and other Makabayan lawmakers are questioning how the OVP received the additional funding.

Unlike the P500 million in CF that the OVP received this year, the additional allocation in 2022 did not go through budget deliberations in Congress.

Malacañang also did not respond to a question on whether President Marcos, Duterte’s running mate in the 2022 polls, was the approving authority for the OVP’s additional allotment.

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