Budget Watch

OP violated Constitution in transfer of P125-M confidential funds to OVP – Drilon

Bonz Magsambol

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OP violated Constitution in transfer of P125-M confidential funds to OVP – Drilon

A NEED. Vice President Sara Duterte says OVP needs CIF for safe program implementation.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The process of augmentation is allowed only for existing but deficient items of appropriation. The OVP didn't have those items.

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate President Franklin Drilon on Tuesday, September 5, said the Office of the President (OP) violated the Constitution when it transferred P221.424 million, including the P125 million in confidential and intelligence funds (CIF), to the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in 2022.

“It is clear that the transfer runs counter to the basic principles of budgeting and governance enshrined within Article VI, Section 25 (5), of the Constitution,” Drilon said.

That part of the Constitution states, “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”

Drilon, who also served as justice secretary during the administration of the late president Corazon Aquino, said the transfer raised “constitutional questions and violates the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Araullo v Aquino.”

On Tuesday, the Office of the Executive Secretary confirmed the transfer of funds from the OP to the OVP in 2022 for the following items:

  • Financial Assistance/Subsidy – P96.424 million
  • Confidential Funds (for newly created satellite offices) – P125 million

Drilon said the transfer of funds could only be allowed through the process called augmentation. However, he pointed out that it is allowed only for existing but deficient items of appropriation. Without existing items in the OVP’s budget for these, the OP should not have been able to augment anything.

Drilon was referring to the Commission on Audit Report (COA) that showed 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 crafted. 

Vice President Sara Duterte confirmed on Monday, September 4, that she requested for CIF in 2022 upon taking office.

“We requested it to the Office of the President, and was granted through [the] Department of Budget and Management. I think [the] DBM can better answer the transfer of funds. Nevertheless, we complied with the reportorial requirements on the use of funds as confidential funds,” she said. – Rappler.com

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  1. ET

    What will happen now to VP Sara Duterte and President BBM? Are they above the Law?

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.