OVP clarifies ₱125-M confidential funds in 2022 were spent in 19 days

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — The Office of the Vice President (OVP) on Wednesday clarified that it spent its ₱125-million confidential funds in 2022 in a span of 19 days, disputing the earlier claim of the Commission on Audit (COA) that the amount was exhausted in only 11 days.

Davao de Oro 1st district Rep. Ma. Carmen Zamora, who sponsored the OVP's budget before the House of Representatives plenary, said the agency only began implementing projects when it received the confidential funds on Dec. 13, 2022.

"To say that the Office of the Vice President spent the confidential fund in 11 days, the office submits its stand that it is inaccurate," she said.

"The implementation of the programs started on the day that the SARO was released on December 13 of 2022. Which means, after immediately the release of SARO the implementation has already started," she added.

This supports the earlier findings of ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro that the OVP spent all ₱125 million of its confidential funds, which the latter indicated would be used for "newly created satellite offices", in only 19 days.

But Marikina 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo, who sponsored COA's budget, said the confidential funds were spent in only 11 days.

Zamora stressed that the OVP already laid out its plans prior to the release of the confidential funds in 2022.

"Prior to the release of this fund, plans were already laid down by the Office of the Vice President. Which actually became the basis for the request of the Office of the Vice President for a confidential fund," she said.

Although the OVP reiterated that it complied with a 2015 government circular on the use of confidential funds, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said that it must be known where the ₱125 million was used.

"Kailangan po nating talagang malaman kung ano ang pinagdalhan sa ₱125 million confidential funds. In the first place, we are questioning 'yung entitlement ng Office of the Vice President dito," said Brosas.

[Translation: We need to know where the ₱125 million confidential funds were spent. In the first place, we are questioning the entitlement of the Office of the Vice President on these.]

"Kaya we are asking to abolish these confidential funds. Actually, hindi lang sa ahensya ng OVP, gusto naitn maging accountable lahat ng ahensya na mayroon nito at 'yung mga gustong kumuha pa nito dapat magkaroon ng pamamaraan kung paano ito ginagastos."

[Translation: We want these confidential funds to be abolished. Actually, not just the OVP, but we want all agencies who have such funds to be accountable and those who want to have one should know how to properly utilize them.]

The OVP’s budget has yet to undergo debates in the Senate. But Senator Risa Hontiveros and Vice President Sara Duterte already had a heated argument regarding the confidential funds.