Sara Duterte asks SC to dismiss pleadings vs confidential funds

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Sara Duterte asks SC to dismiss pleadings vs confidential funds
Vice President Sara Duterte attends the 25th Pandanan Festival and 171st Independence Day in Luisiana, Laguna
Facebook / Inday Sara Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Sara Duterte asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the petitions assailing the constitutionality of the P125 million confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for 2022.

In a 19-page consolidated comment, Duterte said that the petitions do not present an actual case or controversy nor assert a legally enforceable right.

“The petitions are mere apprehension and speculation about contingent funds or confidential funds, which does not constitute a justiciable controversy,” Duterte’s consolidated comment read. 

The comment filed by Duterte dated May 9, 2024 was filed through former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza. 

The vice president's petition noted that although the SC holds judicial power, this does not imply it must address every question within its authority to answer.

“The policy of the courts is to avoid ruling on constitutional questions and to presume that the acts of the political departments are valid, absent a clear and unmistakable showing to the contrary. To doubt is to sustain. This presumption is based on the doctrine of separation of powers. This means that the measure had first been carefully studied by the legislative and executive departments and found to be in accord with the Constitution before it was finally enacted and approvede,” Duterte’s comment read.

“To conclude, it is important to state that courts do not sit to adjudicate mere academic questions to satisfy scholarly interest therein, however intellectually solid the problem may be,” it added.

The controversy began after the Office of the President transferred P125 million to the OVP in 2022, which the Commission on Audit noted was spent in just 11 days.

This has been assailed by two groups in separate petition in November 2023. The first petitioners questioned the constitutionality of the P125 million transfer of the Office of the President’s contingency fund to to the OVP’s CIF in 2022.

The other petition asked the high court to nullify Executive Order (EO) No. 2 and the Commission on Audit Joint Circular 2015-01, which allows the use, transfer and disbursement of the CIF.

Both petitioners also asked the SC to compel the OVP to return the disputed funds to the national treasury.

It could also be recalled that on Nov. 9, 2023, the the OVP retracted its appeal to receive P650 million in confidential funds from the 2024 national budget.

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