SOME TWO weeks back we wrote about the souring relationship between Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte and her once-former allies during the 2022 national elections. It all came to the open because of the issue of the 2022 Confidential Funds (CF) “transferred” to her offices and alleged to have been exhausted in just eleven (11) days.
According to news accounts, the CF amounting to P125 million was transferred from the Office of the President and sourced from the President’s contingent funds.
Since the two offices of VP Sara are asking again for a CF for the fiscal year 2024, the opposition and the militant Partylist lawmakers all the more demanded the disclosure of how and where the previous CF was spent. In effect, they somehow succeeded in insinuating the infidelity of VP Sara.
It is now public knowledge that during the deliberation of the proposed 2024 national budget at the Appropriations Committee level, VP Sara was literally “stoned” with seething questions if only to justify why her offices need such funds.
But the main objective of the questions was to force VP Sara to reveal how and where the CF was spent by her offices, and/or whether or not the OVP and the DepEd are agencies of government entitled to the CF.
VP Sara refused to divulge the CF-funded projects spent allegedly in just eleven (11) days, citing that it is for what the fund is intended with – for confidential work of the office it is given.
Those who questioned the rationality of the request argued that the offices are not since the functions of both are not related to intelligence information gathering but are purely civic in nature.
The interpellators led by militant Party-list Congresswoman France Castro boldly pursued their claims that there are other offices in the government whose budget needs to be increased especially since their functions are related to securing the peace and stability of the nation. In the final deliberation of the appropriations committee of the House, the body recommended the realignment of the OVP and DepEd requested CF budget to other government offices. The recommendation was quickly adopted by the Plenary in the final reading of the 2024 budget bill.
The congressional action though was not without suspicion. Many, especially those who believe that the OVP and the DepEd need to have the CF, suspect that there were political blocs in Congress orchestrating the move. And all eyes were on House Speaker Martin Romualdez, a presidential cousin. Like the VP he is audibly rumored to be eyeing the Presidency, therefore this early he might have seen the need to deprive the VP of means to be on the advantage. And that was where the souring of the relation between former allies VP Sara and Speaker Romualdez started to manifest in its highest decibel
Not willing to see his daughter pushed around, former President Rodrigo Duterte came out with hard jabs at the House as “rotten.” FPRRD even upped the ante by demanding the House to disclose its own confidential funds and how these were spent. Unfortunately, some of those who felt slighted by the Duterte reaction interpreted the former President’s words as a direct and blatant attack against the institution.
Without naming Speaker Romualdez, with great bravado, said he will stand to defend the House of Representatives from those who intend to destroy its reputation. And in a Privilege Speech, Congressman Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales from Pampanga came out with his own circus. He publicly announced in the Plenary that he was resigning from the PDP-Laban, the Party of Duterte.
And now these “good men” in Philippine society are joining the fray. But they are all known anti-Duterte lawyers, led by former Comelec chairman Christian Monsod and former VP Leni Robredo’s spokesman Barry Guttierez, and a leader of an anti-crime organization. They are petitioning the Supreme Court to declare as “unconstitutional” the transfer of a portion of the Presidential confidential funds to that OVP after Sara and President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. assumed office in the middle of 2022. They are asking further the highest court to also have VP Sara “return” the P125 million CF to the government.
Defending Duterte, FPRRD’s former Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo laughed out on Romualdez’s courageous announcement to “defend the Institution” from anyone who will attack it. Panelo said on television that Duterte’s demanding that the House also disclose its own confidential fund was any citizen’s duty to demand accountability since government service is a “public trust.” Panelo even added that if the Speaker is mad at the allusion the House is “rotten” historically it was and still remains the citizens’ perception – “rightly or wrongly.”
FPRRD’s own reaction to the public resignation of Congressman Gonsales’ quitting the PDP-Laban was curt with one easily very understandable message. That even if he is the only remaining person in the PDP-Laban it’s okay with him; that he is on the Party for the principle it stands for and not for the sake of “pakisama.”
On her part, VP Sara’s reaction to the petition filed with the SC was even simpler. She was kind of saying, “Go Ahead,” so the issue of its constitutionality is resolved once and for all.
Now the “war” on the way to Malacanang for 2028 is already fought in different ways and like the Israeli-Hamas war, interested groups and personalities are serving as proxies for the interest of the real players in the marathon towards the Palace in 2028.
- Mom in her kitchen. See what’s cooking, too!
- ROUGH CUTS | These rumor mongers
- TODAY’S HEADLINES – April 6, 2021
- Rough Cuts | No need to find alibis
- Police, victims, and a call for change
- SCENE CITY | Verdeli opens as newest destination in Malagos
- DCPO recognized as best police office
- 59 communist guerrillas surrender since January
- Scene City | Quarantine is a blessing in disguise
- President urged: Cancel franchise of electric coop