MANILA -- Vice President Sara Duterte on Wednesday spoke about the necessity of confidential funds and its role in ensuring the security and development of the country.
Speaking at the 122nd Police Service Anniversary of the Police Regional Office 13 in Butuan City, Duterte, who is also the country's Education Secretary, justified why confidential funds are essential.
"I stand before you to shed light on the crucial role of confidential funds in ensuring the security and development of our beloved nation. In the pursuit of progress, it is imperative that we prioritize the well-being of our citizens and safeguard the peace and order that underpins our society. Let us remember that security and development do not come with a price tag; they are the very essence of a thriving nation," she said.
"Peace and order, along with education, must be protected at all costs. They are the cornerstones upon which a prosperous society is built," Duterte added.
Duterte also highlighted how confidential funds can help ensure the security of the country by providing additional resources that can help the government address security issues swiftly and decisively.
"Confidential funds play a vital role in maintaining security by providing the necessary resources to address unforeseen challenges swiftly and decisively. Whether it is combating terrorism, tackling organized crime, or safeguarding the integrity of our nation, these funds enable our law enforcement agencies and intelligence bodies to protect our citizens effectively. They allow us to respond promptly to security threats, ensuring the safety of our people and the stability of our nation," she explained.
For Duterte, it also doesn't matter how long it takes for the confidential funds to be spent as long as people remain safe.
"The allocation of confidential funds should not be constrained by time. It matters not whether it takes one day or one year of spending; what truly matters is the safety and security of our people. We cannot cap the importance of protecting our citizens based on arbitrary timeframes. We must remain committed to providing the necessary resources for our security forces to fulfill their duties and protect our nation," she said.
She also said those who attack "funds allocated for peace and order" have "insidious motivations."
"Such actions go against the protection and well-being of our citizenry. Those who seek to compromise the security and development of our nation jeopardize the very fabric of our society and hinder our progress. We must remain vigilant and steadfast in our commitment to safeguarding our people and our nation," Duterte said.
"Makinig kayo sa lahat ng sinasabi sa palibot ninyo at tandaan ninyo, kung sino man kumokontra sa confidential funds ay kumokontra sa kapayapaan. Kung sino ang kumokontra sa kapayaan ay kalaban ng bayan," she added.
The OVP and DepEd, both headed by Vice President Sara Duterte, are requesting a combined P650 million in confidential funds for 2024.
The OVP has been the subject of intense interpellations at the House over its P125 million confidential fund in 2022, which was released to the agency in December 2022.
The Commission on Audit noted that the OVP spent the money in 11 days.
Duterte has yet to issue a statement on the confidential fund allocation during her term as Davao City mayor but has previously said the OVP and DepEd can live without confidential funds.
She previously also dismissed questions on her offices' confidential funds as lies and attacks from "a gang of individuals who had successfully mastered the art of fabricating lies."
Discussions on confidential funds and how they are audited have led House leaders to promise to remove confidential funds from some agencies.
- with a report from Charmane Awitan, ABS-CBN News.