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EDITORIAL: State Turmoil?

THE recent petition filed before the Supreme Court by a group of legal and economic experts to challenge the constitutionality of Vice President Sara Duterte’s confidential funds demands urgent attention and resolute action.

At the core of this issue lies a significant breach of constitutional principles. The petition contends that the transfer of P125 million from the national budget to the Office of the Vice President’s confidential funds is an overstep of legislative power.

The flagrant maneuver raises serious concerns about the separation of powers and the due process of budget allocation, which is the prerogative of the Congress, not the Executive branch.

The assertion made by the Office of the President that they have the authority, under the 2022 General Appropriations Act, to approve releases for ‘new or urgent activities or projects’ does not justify the unconstitutional reallocation of funds.

The allocation of confidential funds should adhere to the intent and limitations set forth by the legislative body, not be an avenue for unilateral decision-making by the Executive.

Vice President Duterte’s swift expenditure of the allocated funds in a mere 11 days further exacerbates the gravity of the situation. Such expeditious use of public funds, especially from a source that is notoriously challenging to audit, raises fundamental questions about transparency and accountability.

It is commendable that the petitioners, among whom are esteemed figures like economist Cielo Magno and Constitution framer Christian Monsod, are invoking the judiciary to rectify what they assert as a grave abuse of discretion.

The move isn’t merely about reclaiming the misallocated funds; it’s about upholding the sanctity of the legislative process and ensuring adherence to constitutional provisions.

Vice President Duterte’s response, stating that she welcomes the legal discourse on the matter, is a step in the right direction. However, it is imperative that such discussions are not merely conversational but lead to tangible actions that restore the proper allocation and usage of public funds.

This issue isn’t confined to a political personality but underscores the fundamental need for robust checks and balances within our government. It’s about protecting the integrity of the democratic process and reinforcing the accountability of public officials.

Should the Supreme Court favor the petitioners, it won’t just be about the return of the contentious P125 million. It will set a crucial precedent, underscoring the importance of adhering to legislative intent, ensuring proper scrutiny of fund allocations, and upholding the supremacy of the Constitution.

In conclusion, this is not just about one disputed fund; it’s about the essence of good governance, transparency, and the sanctity of our constitutional processes.

It’s time to demonstrate that no one, regardless of their position, is above the law and the Constitution they are sworn to protect. The Supreme Court must, in this instance, take a definitive stand for the rule of law and constitutional order.


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