Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte withdrew from asking confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd), Education spokesperson Undersecretary Michael Poa.
Poa told the Senate reporters on Thursday that Duterte is willing to set aside the request for CIF to maintain peace and unity in the country.
“Ang Office of the Vice President ay maaari lamang magmungkahi ng kaukulan o karapat-dapat na budget para sa maayos na implementasyon ng mga proyekto laban sa kahirapan at mga programa na magtataguyod ng kapakanan ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino. Pero ganun pa man, hindi na po iper-pursue, hindi na po itutuloy ng Office of the Vice President ang orihinal na mungkahi para sa (The Office of the Vice President can only request budget for the proper implementation of projects that will help alleviate poverty and programs for the welfare of every Filipino family. However, the OVP will not pursue its original request for) confidential funds,” Poa said, reiterating the statement of Duterte read by budget sponsor Senator Sonny Angara during the plenary debates.
Duterte, who personally attended the Senate plenary debates for the budget of the OVP and DepEd, was commended by Senate Minority Leader Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
“Given this latest manifestation by the Vice President, I commend her Mr. President for now categorically stating to this House that it’s not a deferral to our wisdom. She does not want it anymore Mr. President. If that’s how I understand her statement, I commend the Vice President,” Pimentel said.
He added that the Senate needs to give the OVP “some flexibility” in the budget process and come up with programs that will make the office more relevant in helping its constituents.
Senators have earlier agreed to remove the requested CIF of the OVP, DepEd, and other civilian agencies.
Under the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP), both the OVP and DepEd asked for a CIF amounting to a total of PHP650 million.
The OVP was asking for PHP2.378 billion under the 2024 NEP but was approved for PHP1.874 billion by the House of Representatives or a reduction of PHP504 million. (PNA)