A senior lawmaker on Tuesday said the transfer or release by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) of P125 million from the contingent fund of the Office of the President to the Office of the Vice President is flawed and against the Constitution.
“Under Section 25(5) of Article VI of the Constitution, transfer of funds is prohibited except with respect to constitutional officers like the President relative to savings for augmentation of any deficient allocation in their respective offices. Consequently, it is unconstitutional for any transfer of funds from the Office of the President to another office like the Office of the Vice President,” Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said.
“Transfers for augmentation must be from the savings of the office concerned. It was admitted that in the President’s contingent fund, the savings in 2022 were only P50 million, but the release to the Office of the Vice President was P125 million. In other words, it was not from savings. Moreover, the Office of the President, through its sponsor, repeatedly said that the release of the amount was not from savings,” Lagman added.
According to Lagman, the transfer or release is to augment deficiencies in the items of appropriation of the constitutional office concerned, which in this instance is the Office of the President.
“Moreover, there was nothing to be augmented because the Office of the Vice President had a zero appropriation for confidential funds in 2022. Zero appropriation cannot be augmented. The fund transfer or release also derogates the clear intention of the Congress not to appropriate any allocation for said item,” he said.
Lagman said the letter dated August 22, 2022, of the Vice President to the DBM requested the release of funds by augmentation and for confidential funds, both of which are prohibited.
Duterte’s letter to Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman was obtained by Lagman.
In the letter, Vice President Sara Duterte originally asked for P250 million in confidential funds in 2022.
The confidential fund request was part of her total request of P403.46 million.
“The Office of the Vice President expresses its gratitude for the recommendation on the recalibrated budget level under the FY 2023 National Expenditure Program. To ensure continuous operations of the OVP under the current year, may we request a total of P403.46 million for various purposes,” Duterte said in her letter.
These various purposes include the augmentation of financial assistance, the augmentation of the special duty allowance for the Vice Presidential Security and Protection Group, additional 192 coterminous and contractual positions, and confidential funds.
According to Senior Vice Chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations and Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, the P125 million in confidential funds allocated to the OVP by the Office of the President (OP) was spent in 11 days and not in 19 days for the year 2022, citing information from the Commission on Audit (COA).