MANILA -- The Commission on Audit (COA) is urged to look into the reported P2 billion worth of confidential funds that Vice President Sara Duterte used when she was a mayor of Davao City.
Data from COA showed Davao City had P2.697 billion in confidential funds from 2016 to 2022.
According to House Deputy Minority Leaders and ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, this means Davao City had a daily spending of P1.235 million for the past six years.
Some groups are now calling for a probe into these reports, and to look how the government of Davao City used the funds.
For Bayan Muna Chairperson Neri Colmenares, spending P2.6 billion in six years is unimaginable.
"It is unimaginable for a local public official to spend P2.6 Billion in confidential funds in just six years! Were these funds fully spent to the last centavo each year?" Colmenares said.
In a forum, former COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza and retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio stressed that confidential funds still need to be audited.
"There is no law prescribing reasonable conditions for non-full public disclosure of disbursements of confidential funds. No law whatsoever!" Carpio said.
"Kung kailangan ho talagang tingnan, kung gustong tingnan kung paano nagamit, puwede hong bangga o i-compare ‘yong financial plan sa accomplishment report," Mendoza added.
Mendoza said confidential funds can only be used for programs or projects that are connected to the country's national security and peace and order.
For Carpio, a complaint against any official who would not divulge how public funds are used can be filed at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Lawmakers should also consider drafting a bill for the proper use of confidential funds should also be considered.
"I’ve noticed that many LGUs now… They’re also creating confidential funds, intelligence funds. And there are no limitations here. So, we have to craft a law regulating all of these," Carpio said.
Meanwhile, according to Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, local government units can have confidential funds as long as they do not abuse it.
"My opinion about this is, as long as it is not abused & used in accordance with the intention of the law in maintaining peace & order in their LGUs, strictly conforming with the limitations/requirements of the law/guidelines issued by appropriate agencies," he said in a text message.
ABS-CBN News has reached out to Vice President Duterte but her camp has yet to respond to queries.