Philippine national budget 2024

Duterte’s OVP spent P125-M confidential funds in 11 days – COA

Dwight de Leon

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Duterte’s OVP spent P125-M confidential funds in 11 days – COA

SARA DUTERTE. In this file photo, Vice President Sara Duterte attends the budget hearing on the proposed 2024 budget of the Office of the Vice President at the House of Representatives on August 30, 2023.


In a surprising twist, lawmaker Stella Quimbo corrects Makabayan, saying the Office of the Vice President exhausted its P125-million confidential funds in 11 days, not 19

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) confirmed on Monday, September 25, that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) under Sara Duterte’s leadership spent its P125-million confidential funds in 2022 within a shorter period of time than previously reported.

“Past discussions indicated that the OVP spent the P125 million within 19 days, which seems to be a very short period of time. Can the COA confirm this?” House assistant minority leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela asked COA during the plenary deliberations of the commission’s proposed 2024 budget.

“The truth is, I was also surprised when I heard reports that the amount was spent within 19 days. I asked COA and I checked numerous reports. It was not spent within 19 days, but 11 days,” answered House appropriations senior vice chairperson Stella Quimbo, who was speaking on behalf of COA as its budget sponsor in the House.

Duterte’s OVP spent P125-M confidential funds in 11 days – COA

The revelation visibly shocked Brosas, who pointed out that it meant the OVP spent around P11 million per day for the 11-day period in December 2022.

Quimbo said the OVP already submitted its liquidation reports to COA in January 2023.

“The audit is ongoing. This morning, I learned that the COA has given its preliminary observations to the Office of the Vice President. In other words, the COA has issued its audit observation memorandum (AOM),” Quimbo said.

An AOM is a written notification to government agencies about deficiencies on financial documents they submitted. The memo requires them to address the observations and submit missing documents. Generally, an AOM is not published because its issuance doesn’t automatically mean there is corruption.

Why the OVP’s 2022 confidential expenses are a big issue

It was only after COA reports were published in July that the public found out that the OVP incurred P125 million in confidential expenses in 2022.

That’s even though the budget approved by Congress did not provide confidential funds to the Office of the Vice President that year. The OVP’s budget in 2022 was prepared by Duterte’s predecessor Leni Robredo.

It was later established that the money came from contingent funds of the 2022 national budget, released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the OVP upon approval of the Office of the President.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin previously said the confidential funds released to the OVP in 2022 were for newly created satellite offices, but it is unclear why Duterte needed secret funds to operate them.

In past weeks, Duterte has resorted to personal attacks against critics, and blanket denial of allegations that the funds have been used inappropriately.

Critics are also concerned about whether the transaction was constitutional, given that a government agency cannot simply transfer funds to another agency because the power to appropriate lies in Congress. They also said there was no line item for confidential funds in the OVP’s 2022 budget.

Quimbo’s most recent explanation was that the contingent funds were transferred to the OVP through the existing line item that was the Good Governance Program, under which confidential expenses were incurred.

Confidential and intelligence funds are much more difficult to audit, because they are exempted from standard procedures of the Commission on Audit.

For 2024, Duterte is asking Congress for confidential funds worth P500 million for the OVP, and P150 million for the Department of Education, which she also heads. –


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  1. ET

    If the OVP can spend P 125 million Confidential Funds in a 19-day period is shocking, spending the same amount in an 11-day period is, indeed, more shocking. But there will be more shocking days ahead, like: VP Sara Duterte can still get away with it … and the Most Shocking will be that despite this “abuse”, other recent “abuses” and future “abuses” – she would still be elected by our “bobotantes” as the President of the Republic of the Philippines in 2028!

    1. LA

      If this happens, we’re on our way (again) to a Guinness world record-breaking title “greatest robbery of a government”. When will we ever learn, people.

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.