March 4, 2024

I have a particular dislike for party-list representatives, especially the so-called “Makabayan blocs” because their agenda does not seem to be in accord with national unity. Moreover, their representatives are elected via back door and are elevated to the level of lawmakers even if they do not represent any particular district.
To me, these party-list representatives are mere excess legislators and the public funds appropriated for their respective offices are a waste of taxpayer’s money. They protest everything, from the peace and order situation, to public transportation, to the prices of commodities, and up until how the President does his job. They are “pakialamero,” so to speak.
Yet, once in a while, these Makabayan bloc party-list representatives make a meaningful observation that might just make some revelations regarding corruption in the government.
Sometime last week, Association of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Party-list Rep. France Castro exposed the use of P125 million confidential and intelligence fund (CIF) by the Office of Vice President (OVP) Sara Duterte-Carpio. She claims such fund was realigned from the Office of the President even if there is no congressional approval. She hastens to add that technically, the OVP has no appropriation for CIF and any use of the same from any source is, therefore, improper if not illegal. Because of this, she is contemplating of filing an impeachment against the Vice President.
I like the leadership style of the Vice President. She is tough, strong, brave, and deliberate. I am an ardent supporter and I believe in her integrity. However, in the light of the accusation made by Castro, as earlier elaborated by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Duterte-Carpio must respond and explain.
Her explanation must go beyond the expenditure of the CIF by the OVP because based on what was reported, the use of the CIF by Duterte-Carpio goes beyond her being a vice president. It is alleged even when she was still the mayor of Davao City, her city already had a CIF.
Just for clarity, the CIF is a special lump sum amount included in the revenue allotment given to local government units to be used for their respective peace and order and public safety plan.
According to Interior and Local Government Sec. Benhur Abalos, the CIF is a matter of necessity since local government units are confronted with a “multitude of challenges, including crimes, terrorism, and even threats to the environment and human security.”
The problem with the CIF is that it lives up to its name as being confidential. Confidential on how it is spent, confidential on where it is spent, and confidential on who is spending it for what or for who. It is rife with confidentiality that it is beyond public scrutiny. On this point alone, it would seem obvious that the CIF, much like the dreaded “pork barrel fund” is susceptible to the highest form of corruption. It might even be unconstitutional since it transcends the constitutional proscription that there should be full disclosure of all government transactions involving public funds.
According to a report by Rappler citing Commission on Audit documents, the OVP spent P125M by way of CIF within 19 days. Oh boy, that is a lot of money to spend in such a short period by an agency that is not supposed to have those funds. What does this say? Besides, what has the Department of Education got to do with peace and order?
The dye has been cast, so to speak. The next move is on the part of the Vice President. We await how she will explain this issue.