By GISELLE OMBAY, GMA Integrated News
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte once again defended her offices’ use of confidential funds, saying that those against the allocation for such are “naturally assumed to have insidious motivations.”
During the 122nd police service anniversary celebration of the Police Regional Office 13 in Butuan City, Duterte stressed the role of confidential funds in maintaining security by providing agencies the necessary resources to address certain challenges.
“Anyone who attacks or undermines funds allocated for peace and order is naturally assumed to have insidious motivations. Such actions go against the protection and well-being of the citizenry. Those who seek to compromise the security and development of our nation jeopardize the very fabric of our society and hinder our progress,” she said.
“Tandaan ninyo—kung sino man ang kumokontra sa confidential funds ay kumokontra sa kapayapaan. Kung sino ang kumokontra sa kapayapaan ay kalaban ng bayan,” she added.
(Remember—whoever is against confidential funds is against peace. Whoever is against peace is an enemy of the nation.)
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) is seeking P500 million worth of confidential funds for fiscal year 2024.
The Department of Education (DepEd), which Duterte also leads as Secretary, also proposed P150 confidential funds for next year.
Duterte is being questioned by several members of Congress as well as other critics for the OVP’s P125 million confidential expenses in 2022 even if such an item was not provided under last year’s General Appropriations Act.
For her part, she said that 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,” Duterte said.
The Commission on Audit (COA) earlier disclosed that the OVP spent the P125 million confidential funds in 11 days in December 2022.
The OVP, however, clarified that the “actual implementation” of the P125 million confidential fund was done in 19 days, not 11. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News