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By Frances Pio

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Matapos kwestyunin ng mga mambabatas ang katwiran sa likod nito sa mga debate sa plenaryo, handa si Bise Presidente Sara Duterte na payagan ang mayorya ng House of Representative na magpasya sa pagpapanatili o pagtanggal ng mungkahing P500 milyong kumpidensyal na pondo para sa kanyang opisina.

Ito ang ibinunyag ni Davao de Oro 1st District Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora, ang sponsor ng budget ng Office of the Vice President (OVP) sa mga deliberasyon sa 2023 National Expenditure Program ngayong Huwebes, Setyembre 22, 2022.

Ipinaabot ito ni Duterte, na naroon sa deliberasyon, kay Zamora matapos idiin ni Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman kung bakit nilalayong magkaroon ng confidential funds ang OVP kung hindi bahagi ng mandato nito ang surveillance.

“Now our understanding is that the Honorable Vice President is not willing to forego not even a single centavo of the P500 million confidential fund allocated in her office,” sinabi ni Lagman.

“Mr. Speaker if I may, your Honor, the Honorable Vice President has just shared it with me now that she’s saying, she defers to the decision of the majority of this honorable Congress,” sinabi ni Zamora.

“Thank you so much for that commitment, Mr. Speaker, distinguished Sponsor, and thank you very much to the Vice President,” sagot ni Lagman.

Sa mga debate, tinanong ni Lagman si Zamora kung ang mga nakaraang bise presidente — mula kay Salvador Laurel, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Teofisto Guingona, Noli de Castro, Jejomar Binay, at Leni Robredo — ang nakakuha ng kumpidensyal na pondo para sa kani-kanilang opisina.

Una nang sinabi ni Zamora na wala, ngunit kalaunan ay nilinaw na ang ilang mga tanggapan ay nakakuha ng mga kumpidensyal na pondo. Gayunpaman, sinabi ni Lagman na ang mga ito ay maliit na halaga.

“The vice presidents then, before martial law, during martial law, and after martial law did not enjoy the allocation of confidential funds, and they did not ask for the appropriation of confidential funds. Is this correct?” tanong ni Lagman.

“Mr. Speaker, your Honor, I stand corrected, in 2009 there was a confidential fund of P6 million, in 2010 there was an allocation of confidential funds amounting to P3 million, in 2011 there was a confidential fund amounting to P6 million, and in 2012 there was a confidential fund amounted to P9 million,” sagot ni Zamora.

“Yes that is correct, and these are minuscule amounts, compared to P500 million,” sagot ni Lagman.

Nang tanungin ng mambabatas ng Albay kung bakit may malaking pagkakaiba sa laki ng confidential funds na inilaan sa OVP ni Duterte, sinabi ni Zamora na hinahangad ng Bise Presidente na umakma sa Office of the President (OP) sa pagpapatupad ng mga programa nito.

“The Vice President, being a former local chief executive of the City of Davao, who is a staunch supporter of advocacy on peace and order and national security, deemed it proper to be a complimenting partner with the Office of the President in assuring that all of the President’s program will be implemented based also on the perspective of ensuring of a peaceful and secure nation,” ani niya.

“And it is the intention of the Honorable Vice President to implement her programs using these confidential funds to assist and help all agencies in ensuring and achieving national security in the country,” dagdag pa niya.

Gayunman, sinabi ni Lagman na ang OP ay mayroon nang P4.5 bilyong kumpidensyal na pondo sa iminungkahing badyet nito.

Sa pagtatapos ng kanyang interpelasyon, tiniyak ni Lagman sa Kamara na itinanong niya ang mga tanong na ito hindi para siraan si Duterte, kundi para maliwanagan ang Kongreso tungkol sa isyu.

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