Senate minority bloc vows to push for realignment of OVP, DepEd confidential funds

The Senate minority bloc has vowed to move for the realignment of the confidential and intelligence (CIF) funds under the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education during the period of amendments of the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023.

Both the budget of the OVP and the DepEd for next year, which includes an appropriation of a CIF worth P500-million for the OVP, and P150-million of the DepEd, are deemed submitted for plenary.

Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio is head of the DepEd and the OVP. She was present when the Senate tackled the budget of the OVP and the DepEd.

“As of last night, deemed approved na siya sa (during the) period of interpellation, at may susunod pang (but there is still the) period of amendments. So doon po ay susubukan ko talaga, susubukan namin ni Sen. Koko so far na i-realign ito (So during that stage, I will try, Sen. (Aquilino) Koko (Pimentel III) and I will try so far to realign these appropriations),” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said in an interview over Radyo Singko.

Hontiveros has repeatedly asked colleagues in the Senate to realign the confidential funds to the Indigenous Peoples Education Program, while other senators want the fund to be realigned to special education program or to the child protection unit of the DepEd.

Hontiveros said she is vouching on the other members of the Senate to act wisely on the controversial funds since the Vice President has said she is leaving it to the members of Congress to decide whether or not the DepEd can maintain confidential funds.

“I hope our colleagues in the Senate will share the view that there are no extraordinarily compelling reasons to provide a confidential fund to the education agency,” Hontiveros said during the budget deliberations on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.

Pimentel, Senate minority leader, during his interpellation on the OVP budget, has also insisted that Congress rechannel the confidential fund of the OVP to more important programs and allow other agencies to perform their mandate with the use of these funds.

“In due time, I will move for the deletion of the budget item of P500-million for the OVP,” Pimentel also said when the OVP budget was tackled in plenary.

“It is my position that the OVP is not entitled to confidential funds, going by the definition that we in Congress crafted,” the Senate minority leader stressed.