MANILA, Philippines — Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte once again lashed out at opposition leaders who questioned her confidential fund plan, calling such criticism lies.
His fury was particularly directed at Senator Risa Hontiveros and ACT Teachers Representative France Castro, who both condemned secret funds from the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) totaling $650 million pesos.
“Senator Risa Hontiveros, even though she entertains the nation with her sense of drama, could only wish that the 2022 OVP (confidential fund) was accessed illegally. It’s a shame that they still can’t produce evidence to support their dirty imagination,” Duterte said in a statement Monday.
“The indignity they have caused to Congress and the Senate should be enough for us not to give them serious attention,” she added.
READ: Sara Duterte seeks P2.3 billion OVP budget for 2024, including $500 million Intel fund
Duterte, however, thanked his allies in Congress for defending the ÖVP’s request for confidential funds.
“Thank you to Rep. Stella Quimbo of Marikina 2nd District for courageously and rationally confronting a gang of individuals who have successfully mastered the art of fabricating lies,” she continued.
READ: Castro: Quimbo spreads disinformation claiming secret funds existed for OVP in 2022
“These efforts are truly appreciated as they help counter the lies told by Rep. France Castro and the Makabayan bloc in Congress on the 2022 OVP (confidential fund),” Duterte also said.
Castro and Duterte had exchanged barbs over the ÖVP’s controversial secret fund, with the former questioning its legality.
Notably, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, who also questioned the confidential funds, was not mentioned in Duterte’s statement.
READ: “A huge mistake”: Pimentel touches confidential and intelligence funds in the 2024 budget
Besides Quimbo, Duterte thanked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro for supporting the OVP’s offer of secret funds.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and several officials of the Marcos administration who supported the Office of the Vice President as it faced the storm of attacks on the 2022 Confidential Fund ” Duterte said.
Duterte’s confidential funds requested for the OVP (P500 million) and the Department of Education (P150 million) for 2024 faced intense opposition, with minority leaders in both houses of Congress challenging his need.
Castro said the 2022 OVP budget crafted by former Vice President Leni Robredo did not contain any confidential funds among its line items. But when Duterte took office in June 2022, the OVP obtained and spent P125 million in confidential funds, she noted.
Hontiveros, for his part, took issue with the huge secret funds earmarked for functions held by Duterte as they exceeded even the combined secret funds of the country’s top security agencies.
READ: Hontiveros examines OVP’s confidential P500-M fund; Duterte says they can live without
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