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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bato Dela Rosa’s claim that opposition ‘did not scrutinize’ OVP ‘confidential funds’ under Robredo needs context

The Office of the Vice President, under Leni Robredo, did not have confidential and intelligence funds from 2016 until the end of her term in 2022, based on the annual audit reports of the Commission on Audit.

Oct 6, 2023

VERA Files

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Hitting back at opposition lawmakers who questioned how Vice President Sara Duterte used the P125-million confidential funds (CF) of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in 2022, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said they were not as meticulous in reviewing the CF of the OVP under then-vice president Leni Robredo. This needs context.

STATEMENT

Interviewed on TeleRadyo Serbisyo 630 on Oct. 1, Dela Rosa said: 

Pamumulitika. Eh, hindi naman lumabas ‘yung isyung ‘yan noon noong panahon nung ang vice president ay miyembro ng opposition, ‘no? Tahimik naman itong opposition pagdating sa pagtalakay ng confidential at intelligence funds na ‘yan. […] Pero sa panahon nila, noong si Vice President Leni Robredo nakaupo sa Office of the Vice President, tahimik naman itong opposition, hindi naman nila kinakalkal ‘yan, pero ngayon, masyadong maingay.”

 

(It is politicking. This issue was not raised  when the vice president was a member of the opposition. The opposition was silent when it came to the discussions on confidential and intelligence funds. But during their time, when vice president Leni Robredo was occupying the Office of the Vice President, they  did not scrutinize it, but now, they are making too much noise.)

 

Source: Radyo 630 Official YouTube Channel, Radyo 630 – Official Livestream (October 1, 2023), Oct. 1, 2023, watch from 1:59:52 to 2:00:36

Dela Rosa was responding to ABS-CBN political correspondent RG Cruz, who asked the senator, a Duterte ally, what he could say about the issues surrounding the OVP’s P125-million CF, which was disbursed in the last 11 days of 2022.

Cruz also asked Dela Rosa if Duterte should answer the issues hounding her office, or if this is a case of politicking that could affect the vice president’s chances in the presidential race in 2028.

The senator said it is not only the opposition that is interested in the issue, but also those who could be affected by the possibility of Duterte running for the country’s highest office.

FACT

The OVP, under Robredo, did not have confidential and intelligence funds from 2016 until the end of her term in 2022, based on the annual audit reports of the Commission on Audit.

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bato Dela Rosa’s claim that opposition ‘did not scrutinize’ OVP ‘confidential funds’ under Robredo needs context

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, an opposition lawmaker since 2016, echoed the  audit reports during an Oct. 2 press conference with Senate reporters. 

She said: “Well, walang bumanat sa confidential funds ni dating VP Leni dahil wala siyang confidential funds. At ‘yung pagbanat na ‘yun sa confidential funds ni VP Sara ay hindi pagbanat sa persona ni VP Sara. Pagbanat siya doon sa sobrang laki at wala sa lugar na confidential funds.”

(Well, nobody criticized the confidential funds of former VP Leni because she did not have confidential funds. And the criticism on the confidential funds of VP Sara is not an attack on the persona of VP Sara. It’s a criticism against the enormous amount and misspending of the confidential funds.) 

While the OVP under Robredo did not have CIF, the office reported extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses not exceeding P550,000 every year since 2016. 

Extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses are allotted for meetings, seminars, and conferences, memberships to government organizations, professional organizations recognized by the Professional Regulations Commission, or membership to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, subscription services for informative materials, among others.

These exclude payments for “salaries, wages, allowances, confidential and intelligence expenses,” based on the general provisions of past General Appropriation Acts, or the annual expenditure program of the government.

BACKSTORY

House leaders have decided to reallocate the P650-million CF of  the OVP and the Department of Education, both headed by Duterte, to agencies mainly responsible for protecting the country’s interests in the West Philippine Sea.

This came after it was exposed during the budget hearings that the OVP spent P125-million confidential funds in 11 days, not 19 as previously reported. Being questioned also is the legality of the transfer of P221.42 million, including the P125 million confidential funds, from the Contingent Fund of the Office of the President to the OVP in December 2022.

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Sources

Commission on Audit Annual Audit Reports of the OVP during Robredo’s term

Commission on Audit, COA Circular No.85-55A, Sept. 8, 1985

General Appropriation Acts of the Duterte administration

 Senate of the Philippines, Transcript of interview of Senator Risa Hontiveros with Senate Media, Oct. 2, 2023

GMA News Online, House to realign OVP, DepEd confidential funds to security forces, Sept. 27, 2023

Manila Bulletin, House leader confirms plan to realign P650-M OVP, DepEd confidential funds, Sept. 27, 2023

Inquirer.net, Guardians of WPS to get VP Duterte’s secret funds – House, Sept. 28, 2023 

On 11 days

On 19 days

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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