Group files suit questioning OVP confidential funds

By Benjamin Pulta

November 7, 2023, 3:22 pm

MANILA – A group of former government officials and lawyers on Tuesday filed a petition before the Supreme Court, questioning the validity of the transfer of PHP125 million to the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) confidential fund.

The petitioners -- lawyer Barry Gutierrez, spokesperson of former vice president Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo; former Commission on Elections chairperson Christian Monsod; former Finance undersecretary Maria Cielo Magno; former Commission on Filipinos Overseas chairperson Imelda Nicolas; law professor Katrina Monsod; Ray Paolo Santiago; Honorio Poblador III; Augusto Lagman; Vicente Romano; Rex Drilon; and Miguel Jugo -- also sought to order the OVP to return the money to the government's treasury.

In July, the Commission on Audit (COA) released the 2022 audit report of the OVP confirming that the latter used PHP125 million that was transferred in December 2022.

The COA, in the same report, flagged the equipment the OVP procured for its new satellite offices that were supposedly obtained without following procedures mandated by Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.

Last September, the Office of the Executive Secretary said the confidential fund was released in compliance with provisions in the 2022 General Appropriations Act, which authorized the Office of the President to approve releases to cover funding requirements of new or urgent activities or projects that need to be implemented or paid. (PNA)