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Submit reply in 10 days, SC orders VP Sara on P125M confi funds plea

THE Supreme Court (SC) yesterday directed Vice President Sara Duterte, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman to respond within 10 days to the petition filed last month challenging the constitutionality of the controversial transfer of P125 million from the Office of the President to the Office of the Vice President in December 2022.

“Acting on the petition for certiorari, the Court resolved, without giving due course to the petition, to require the Respondents to comment thereon within 10 days from notice thereof,” the Court en banc said in a resolution issued Monday.

The en banc likewise required the petitioners, led by constitutionalist and former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Christian Monsod and lawyer Barry Gutierrez, to “comply within five days” to submit an electronic copy of the petition and its annexes through electronic mail within 24 hours from the filing of the hard copies and a verified declaration that the electronic copy is a complete and true copy of the printed document and annexes as required in the Revised Guidelines on Submission of Electronic Copies of Supreme Court-bound papers.

In a statement, Budget Undersecretary for Media Affairs and Community Relations Goddess Hope Libiran said Pangandaman and the DBM are already coordinating with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

“This is in relation to the Supreme Court notice asking key government officials, including Budget Secretary Mina Pangandaman to comment on the petition for certiorari in relation to the release of confidential funds to the Office of the Vice President in 2022. Please be informed that the Budget Secretary has already taken cognizance of the matter, and we are now working closely with the Office of the Solicitor General on this,” Libiran said.

In a 49-page petition for certiorari, the petitioners have asked the High Court to declare as unconstitutional the 2022 transfer of the P125 million contingency fund from the OP to Duterte’s office to be used as confidential funds, and to order the Vice President to return the amount to the National Treasury.

The other petitioners include former Finance Undersecretary Maria