Sara Duterte

Makabayan lawmakers, activists file petition vs Sara Duterte’s confidential funds

Jairo Bolledo

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Makabayan lawmakers, activists file petition vs Sara Duterte’s confidential funds

PETITIONERS. Another petition is filed before the Supreme Court on December 11, 2023, to challenge the legality of the P125 million confidential funds given to the Office of the Vice President in 2022. Left to right: Makabayan chairperson Neri Colmenares, Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Representative France Castro, and former Bayan Muna congressman Carlos Zarate.

Rappler

The petitioners also ask that the Commission on Audit be allowed to review the Vice President's 2022 confidential funds 'in the same manner as it audits public funds'

MANILA, Philippines – Makabayan lawmakers and other activists on Monday, December 11, became the third group to file a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the P125-million confidential funds of Vice President Sara Duterte in 2022.

In their petition for certiorari – a legal remedy used to review grave abuse of discretion to challenge Duterte’s confidential funds for 2022 – the group asked the Court to void and declare as unconstitutional the release, request, receipt, and use of Duterte’s P125-million confidential funds in 2022.

They argue that the fund transfer constitutes constitutional violation, particularly article VI of the 1987 Constitution which states that “the legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines.” In essence, the petitioners want to raise that no money shall be paid out of the country’s treasury “except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.”

Appropriation means the annual budget bill passed by Congress, which is signed into law by the President. The petitioners also asked the High Court to compel the respondents to return the confidential funds in question.

But the unique prayer in the newest petition was making the P125-million auditable by the Commission on Audit (COA) “in the same manner as it audits public funds.”

The named petitioners include ACT Teachers Representative France Castro, Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, Kabataan Representative Raoul Manuel, Makabayan chairperson Neri Colmenares, and former Bayan Muna lawmakers Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat, among others.

The latest petition is the third filed before the SC on the same subject. On November 7,  a group of legal and economic experts filed a petition for certiorari to declare as unconstitutional the Vice President’s confidential funds and also asked the Court to order the return of the P125-million fund.

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On November 15, retired former senior associate justice Antonio Carpio led the filing of a petition for certiorari and mandamus, with urgent prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, against the Vice President’s confidential funds. The petitioners asked the SC to declare null and void Joint Circular No. 2015-01, which guides the use and auditing of confidential funds.

Almost a month after the first petition was filed, the SC ordered Duterte to respond to the petition. An order to comment is part of the SC’s procedures in handling cases or petitions. — Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.