MAYNILA - Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives disputed on Friday the statements of House Committee on Appropriations vice chair Stella Quimbo on the transfer of P125 million in confidential funds to Vice President Sara Duterte's office in 2022 from the President’s contingent funds.
ACT Party-List Rep. France Castro said Quimbo “misinformed” the public when she stated that the fund transfer was “legal”, adding that there was an existing line item for confidential and intelligence funds under the OVP in the 2022 General Appropriations Act, but the amount was zero.
Castro stressed that the said line item was considered “non-existent” because it had no budget allocation.
She added that allocations for confidential funds should be approved by Congress and “expressly provided for” in the GAA.
“With due respect sa ating colleague, nagbibigay siya ng misinformation about dun sa confidential fund na meron daw line item dito sa GAA 2022. We beg to disagree. ‘Pag sinabi nating line item, ang ibig sabihin nyan ay may expressly provided budget allocation. So may amount. Hindi naman pwede sabihing zero, so non-existent siya. Although andun siya sa category, andun siya under ng category na confidential, intelligence, extraordinary expenses, pero wala talagang nakalagay na confidential fund noong 2022 sa OVP," Castro said in an online press conference.
"Kaya, hindi entitled ang OVP sa confidential fund dahil dapat ito ay expressly provided for or expressed budget allocation,” she said.
“Walang item. ‘Yun ‘yung maliwanag. Sa GAA, an item of appropriations kailangan may allocated na amount," Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas added.
She noted that an inter-agency fund transfer to a non-existent item in the budget is not “normal”.
“Sa transfers na inter-agencies daw, sa loob at labas ng department, unless allowed ng GAA mismo, hindi normal ‘yun. Hindi ka nagta-transfer ng funds, in and out. Lalo kung tapos na ‘yung appropriation,” Brosas said.
“Ang ‘yung maliwanag, ‘yung contingent fund hindi pwedeng gamitin sa confidential fund dahil ‘yung confidential fund may ina-allow din lang siya na kailangang pag gamitan. Kailangang payagan ng Congress in particular,” she added.
In an interview with ANC on Thursday, Quimbo justified the transfer of P125 million in confidential and intelligence funds to the Office of the Vice President, saying the item was mentioned in the GAA, and that inter-agency transfers are “allowed”.
“The line item, which was confidential and intelligence funds already existed in 2022, it just so happened that the amount was zero. You can actually augment an item, because the item already existed,” Quimbo said.