SC asked to rule on constitutionality of OVP confidential funds transfer
November 7, 2023 | 3:23pm
MANILA, Philippines — Lawyers and concerned citizens on Tuesday filed before the Supreme Court a motion for certiorari, questioning the legality of transferring the contingency expense fund to the Office of the Vice President (OVP).
Petitioners assailed the transfer of the P125 million from the Office of the President’s (OP) contingency fund to the OVP’s confidential funds in 2022, which the Commission on Audit said was spent only for 11 days.
The petitioners include 1987 Constitution framer Christian Monsod, lawyers Barry Gutierrez and Arpee Santiago, former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman and former finance undersecretary Cielo Magno.
The petitioners argued that the transfer of funds from the national budget to the OVP can only be executed by the legislative department, neither by the OP nor the OVP.
“That purely legislative act cannot be dedicated to the executive department, ang pwede lang gawin ng executive department ay sundan ang instruction ng batas,” Arpee Santiago, one of the petitioners said in a press conference.
“The executive department has no discretion to create another budget item,” he added.
Citing the COA’s 2022 report, the said fund cannot be found in the 2022 general appropriations.
Furthermore, the petitioners argued that the confidential funds, specifically the OVP’s are not within the scope of funding permitted by the contingent fund due to the absence of any allocation.
“There is no item for a confidential fund, therefore, there is no transfer that is allowed by law which is through augmentation,” Santiago said. ‘
“We are concerned because we are talking about money, taxpayers money, pera natin ito,” he added.
Aside from wishing to rule the constitutionality of the said transfer, the petitioners also requested the High Court to order the return of the amount in question to the national treasury.
On October 10, the House Committee on Appropriations realigned the confidential and intelligence fund of four government agencies, including the Duterte-led Department of Education and OVP, to agencies in charge of protecting the West Philippine Sea.