May 29, 2024 People's Journal 116 views

HOUSE Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro yesterday slammed the defense of the P125 million confidential funds allocated to Vice President Sara Duterte’s office, saying the controversial case is “not just theoretical but has caused millions of pesos that should have been allotted to Filipinos who are in need.”

“This illegal and unconstitutional transfer of P125 million to the Office of the Vice President for confidential funds violated all rules on the proper use of such funds,” Castro said. “It represents a massive redirection of public resources away from essential services and towards opaque purposes with no accountability. It is a glaring example of bureaucrat capitalism and should be stopped,”

Castro was referring to the petitions filed at the Supreme Court by herself and other members of the Makabayan Bloc questioning the constitutionality of the confidential funds given to Duterte’s office in late 2022. The funds were rapidly spent within an 11-day period according to the Commission on Audit.

“The petitioners, including myself, Reps. Brosas and Manuel, former Reps. Zarate, Gaite, Cullamat, Palatino, and Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares, are seeking the restitution of these P125 million in public funds that were unlawfully used with no oversight,” Castro stated. “We have asked the Supreme Court to direct COA to fully audit how this money was spent.”

Castro highlighted that the 2022 national budget did not allocate any confidential funds for civilian agencies like the Office of the Vice President. “There was no congressional authorization for the OVP to receive and spend P125 million in confidential funds, in clear violation of our laws,” she said.

“This case goes beyond just theoretical arguments about budget rules. Real public money that could have helped struggling Filipinos was instead funneled into a legal gray area with zero transparency. The people deserve to know where their money went,” ended Rep. Castro.