Fact checks on public officials

FACT CHECK: Sara Duterte quote card on OVP’s P125-M confidential funds is fake 


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FACT CHECK: Sara Duterte quote card on OVP’s P125-M confidential funds is fake 
The quote card attributed to the Vice President was altered. Duterte did not say she could spend the OVP’s confidential funds any way she wanted to.

Claim: Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said the following statement in a quote card from the Sonshine Media Network Inc. (SMNI) News Channel:

“So what if I spent my 125 million pesos confidential funds in 19 days or 11 days as what the COA said? I can spend it in an hour or in a minute if I want to. That money is intended for my office and I can spend it the way I want it to be spent. By its nature it’s CONFIDENTIAL FUNDS and you have no business scrutinizing what is confidential.”

The statement was supposedly made amid budget deliberations on the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and Duterte’s request for confidential funds for 2024. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook post bearing the quote card has garnered 87 reactions, 34 comments, and 14 shares until the time of writing.

Duterte supposedly made the statement on September 25, after the Commission on Audit confirmed that the OVP spent its P125-million confidential funds in 2022 in 11 days, not 19 as previously reported.

The facts: The quote card is fake. There are no news reports, recordings, or videos of Duterte making such a statement. Moreover, the quote card cannot be found on SMNI’s social media channels.

The fabricated post was altered from SMNI’s original quote card posted on its X account on September 5.

The original quote card read: ”The Office of the Vice President is grateful to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Finance and its members for supporting the OVP proposed budget for FY 2024.

“The budget will significantly allow for the safe, efficient, and successful implementation of the OVP programs, projects, and activities designed to provide immediate relief and long-term solutions to challenges such as poverty, livelihood, basic services, education, and other social inequalities facing many Filipinos in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Thank you.”

This was based on an official statement posted on Duterte’s verified Facebook and X account on September 4, when the Senate committee on finance approved the OVP’s proposed P2.3 billion budget for 2024, including P500 million in confidential and intelligence funds.

Stripped of secret funds: However, just before passing the proposed P5.7-trillion budget for 2024, the House of Representatives leadership gave in to public clamor and removed the confidential funds allotted to the OVP and the Department of Education in the proposed budget.

The funds will be reallocated to agencies at the forefront of efforts to address rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

The Vice President has drawn controversy over the lack of transparency regarding her use of the confidential funds, particularly in 2022. (READ: Hontiveros on Duterte’s use of P125M in 11 days: Daig pa may patagong credit card)

SMNI’s statement: On September 27, SMNI disowned the altered quote card that featured their branding and logo. 

In a post on X, SMNI said: “Any MISREPRESENTATION or UNAUTHORIZED USE of our logo and social media materials will be seen as a violation and shall be subject to legal action from SMNI News.” – Owenh Jake Toledo/Rappler.com

Owenh Jake Toledo is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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