No proof of corruption against VP in CIF issue, says Bato
MANILA -- Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Sunday dared critics of Vice President Sara Duterte to prove that she has pocketed confidential funds, claiming that the use of surveillance money has been exploited by her political enemies in anticipation of her possible presidential candidacy in 2028.
The senator -- a former national police chief and a close ally of the vice president and her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte -- also explained that it is possible to properly use big surveillance funds even in just 19 days.
That is how long the Office of the Vice President used some P125-million in confidential funds in 2022.
Speaking on Teleradyo Serbisyo's "Anong Ganap" program on Sunday morning, dela Rosa noted that the Commission on Audit has so far found nothing wrong with the use of the funds, which he noted was given to the OVP in the last 19 days of 2022 before the authority to spend expires and the cash reverts to the treasury.
"Paanong 'di maubos ng 19 days, eh 19 days lang 'yung allowance para magamit 'yung pera na 'yan?" he said. "So within that period of time, alam mo naman 'yung pag-release ng SARO [Special Allotment Release Order] to the expiration of that SARO is hanggang ganoon lang kahaba ang panahon."
"Minabuti ng ahensiya na gamitin talaga, dahil naka-program na 'yan lahat," he added. "Nakalagay naman 'yan lahat kung ano gagawin niya for that year, for that particular fiscal year. So talagang ginastos within that period of time."
"Bakit, sinabi ba ng COA na mali 'yun?" dela Rosa then asked. "Hindi naman sinabi ng COA na 'yan ay corruption. Observation lang ng COA na naubos within that period of time."
But the Commission on Audit has not reported any violations made by the Office of the Vice President, dela Rosa said.
"Meron ba nakita na corruption? Wala naman," he said. "'Yung pagsabi lang na ganoon kaiksi ang panahon sa pagka-gamit ng pera ay sinasabi kaagad nila na issue laban sa Office of the Vice President. Pero wala pang nakita [na] corruption 'yung COA sa kanilang ginawang audit."
POSSIBLE TO SPEND IN 19 DAYS
The former national police chief tapped his experience in spending surveillance funds and explained that it is possible to spend that much money properly, even in such a short period of time. Dela Rosa said that agencies can always lay down the ground for the implementation of plans and prepare everything so that it can be implemented smoothly once the funds are available.
"Pwede," he said. "Kalaki ng Pilipinas, lahat ng mga plans and programs and activities mo pertaining to intelligence … I'm speaking in behalf of the PNP. Halimbawa, late na lumabas 'yung SARO, bandang dulo na ng taon. Pero before, 'yan ang basis namin sa pagpo-propose ng ganito kalaking intelligence funds."
"... Base 'yan sa plans, programs and activities na ginagawa ng ahensiya. Down the line 'yan, from the national headquarters to the smallest police station. Naka-program 'yan, may intelligence activities, plans and progams. So it's just a matter of implementation," he explained.
"Andiyan ang SARO, o i-dispose lang natin, i-distribute kaagad 'yan," he added. "Naka-lista naman doon 'yung mga program na gagawin nila. Madali lang 'yan. Hirap ang magpa-approve dahil uusisain ng husto 'yan. Pero ang pag-gastos, pag andiyan na 'yan, naka-program na lahat 'yan."
The OVP’s budget sponsor said as much during the recently concluded debates on the OVP’s budget at the House of Representatives.
"Iyong time na sinasabi mo na imposible ba, posible yan. Kayang-kayang gawin 'yan, dahil as I've said, naka-ready na. Implementation na lang ang kulang," dela Rosa said.
For the senator, what is happening to Duterte is a result of partisan politics and the jockeying for the 2028 presidential elections.
"Sigurado 'yan, kapag bunga ang kahoy ay maraming bunga, ito'y binabato. So that's klarong pamumulitika 'yan. Pamumulitika. 'Di naman lumabas 'yung issue na 'yan noong panahon [na] ang vice president ay miyembro ng opposition," said dela Rosa.
Duterte's predecessor, Leni Robredo, never had any surveillance funds in her term.
"Pero ngayon, masyadong maingay at 'di lang opposition. Pati na rin 'yunng mga pupwedeng maging apektado sa pagtakbo ni Vice Mayor bilang pangulo sa coming elections, most likely may pulitka. May halong pulitika," said dela Rosa.
"Iyon nga, mayroon naman ding katuturan 'yung mga sinasabi nila, pero 'yun nga, makikita mo yung aggressiveness ay masasabi mo talaga may pamulitika."
The Vice President remains the most popular nationally elected official, according to the latest polls.