Makabayan bloc: OP’s ₱125 million fund transfer to OVP illegal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) – The Makabayan bloc maintains that the Office of the President’s (OP) transfer of ₱125 million to the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in 2022 is illegal and unconstitutional.

“Ilegal ang paglipat ng pangulo ng ₱125 million mula sa contingent fund para bigyan ang bise presidente ng confidential funds. Mula sa contingent fund, gagamitin mo as confidential fund?” ACT-Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said Saturday.

“Bakit dadaanin mo pa sa confidential funds, eh hindi ba dapat nasa regular fund itong mga offices na ito? At hindi ito new office, itong OVP na satellite. Kaya sinasabi natin na parang nagkakabuhol-buhol na ang kanilang paliwanag.”

[Translation: The OP’s transfer of ₱125 million from the contingent fund to give the OVP confidential funds was illegal. Can contingent funds be used as confidential funds?

Why will you use confidential funds, aren’t these offices supposed to be under the regular funds? These OVP satellites aren’t new offices either. This is why we say their explanation is tangled.]

Citing the special provision on contingent funds under the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA), Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin earlier said that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. authorized the release of ₱221.4 million to the OVP in 2022, including ₱125 million in confidential funds for its newly created satellite offices.

READ: COA flags OVP over immediate establishment of satellite offices

However, Castro said the OP is not authorized to transfer funds to OVP under the 2023 General Appropriations Act.

Furthermore, Makabayan said the transfer might have violated Article 6, Section 25.6 of the Constitution, which states that “discretionary funds appropriated for particular officials shall be disbursed only for public purposes to be supported by appropriate vouchers and subject to such guidelines as may be prescribed by law.”

The party also cited Article 6, Section 29 as another constitutional provision violated by the transfer. It reads: “No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.”

Makabayan also called out Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, senior vice chairperson of the House Appropriations Committee, for saying the fund transfer to a budget item was authorized even if its allocation was zero.

Castro added that Quimbo was spreading “misinformation.”

Quimbo earlier denied she was spreading misinformation and said “that a transfer from the special purpose funds, such as contingent funds, to an existing budgetary item is expressly allowed, whether the item has zero allocation or not.”

“This is not a new practice. Such has been happening in past administrations. And it is always reported in the National Expenditure Program when it is sent to Congress,” Quimbo said.