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MANILA, Philippines – Responding to Vice President Sara Duterte’s latest tirade against her, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros said on Thursday, September 14, said that she was not asking for respect from Duterte, but accountability.
“Hindi ko hinihingi ang respeto mo, VP Sara. Ang hinihingi ko sa iyo, at ng taumbayan, ay accountability. Kaya, i-account ‘nyo na lang kung para saan ang hinihingi ‘nyong confidential funds,” Hontiveros said.
(I’m not asking for your respect, VP Sara. What I and the public are asking from you is accountability. So just account for the confidential funds that you’re asking for.)
The opposition senator said that if Duterte cannot respect her fellow government officials, she should respect how public funds are supposed to be spent.
“Kung hindi mo kayang i-respeto ang mga katrabaho mo, i-respeto mo man lang sana ang paggasta ng pera ng bayan. Higit isang linggo na simula nang naghearing tungkol sa confidential funds, pero mas marami ka pang patutsada kaysa sa paliwanag,” Hontiveros said.
(If you can’t respect your colleagues, you should respect how public funds should be spent. It’s over week since we held hearing on the use of confidential funds, yet you have more personal attacks than explanation.)
Hontiveros was reacting to Duterte’s statement on Tuesday, September 12, that she doesn’t respect Hontiveros and ACT Teachers Representative France Castro. The Vice President was asked why she singled out the two lawmakers in a statement she released on Monday, September 11, where she hit the two for questioning the use of confidential funds.
“Because I do not respect Ms. Castro and Ms. Hontiveros. I have no respect for them,” Duterte said, as quoted in a Manila Bulletin article, during the sidelines of an event in Davao City.
The Vice President has been making headlines recently over her use of confidential funds for both the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd), which she leads in a concurrent capacity.
A Commission on Audit (COA) report showed that the OVP spent P125 million in confidential funds for 2022. The OVP budget for 2022 was prepared by the office of then-vice president Leni Robredo. Robredo’s office had said that there was no line item on confidential funds in the budget they had crafted.
A budget expert told Rappler that the transfer of funds from the OP to the OVP is a violation of the Constitution. He said only Congress has the power to appropriate funds, as mandated by law.
Duterte again requested for P500 million and P150 million in confidential funds for OVP and DepEd, respectively, in the proposed 2024 budget.