Zaldy Co

OP release of OVP contingency funds defended

September 15, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 231 views

COME to the rescue.

The Office of the President (OP) didn’t subvert the Congress’ power over the purse when it released contingency funds to the office of Vice President Sara Duterte late last year.

This assurance was made by the OP through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and sent to the House committee on appropriations.

Despite the request of House media to get a copy of said letter, chairman of the committee Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co did not release it but instead issued a press statement conveying the explanation of the OP with regards to the controversial P125 million confidential funds which was transferred by the OP to the OVP.

According to Co, the letter from DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman clarified that the P125 million released to Vice President Sara Duterte came from the P7 billion budget set aside as Contingent Fund for 2022.

This was intended to support the OVP’s Good Governance Engagements and Social Services Projects.

The amount of P125 million is the larger part of the total P221.42 million released to the OVP and sourced from the Contingent Fund under last year’s General Appropriations Act approved by Congress.

Pangandaman said the release of funds to Vice President Duterte’s office “was not an augmentation or transfer of funds from the Office of the President,” an action declared in 2014 as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in its ruling penned by the Justice Lucas Bersamin, now executive secretary, over the Araullo versus Aquino case.

The ruling on the Araullo case declared unconstitutional the act of withdrawing unobligated allotments from implementing agencies, declaring them as savings, then transferring those savings to offices outside the Executive Department to fund projects not covered the the GAA because it oversteps the power of Congress to appropriate public funds.

“While it is understandable that, at the outset, the release of funds to the OVP may be perceived as a transfer, the same was not technically so, for such release was funded from Contigent Fund under the FY 2022 GAA and not from the budget of the OP,” Pangandaman said in her letter to the Rep. Co.

The budget chief also noted that the use of contingent fund isn’t limited to a particular agency or office and only prohibits its use for the purchase of motor vehicles. By its nature, she said, contingent funds are intended to be used for expenditures not anticipated during the preparation of the budget.