Press Release
September 4, 2023

Senator Risa Hontiveros and VP Sara Duterte during the Senate Budget hearing of the proposed 2024 OVP budget

September 04, 2023

Senator Risa Hontiveros (SRH): Maayong buntag, Madame Vice President. Madame Vice President, during the six years of your term, ano yung ipu-pursue niyong primary mandates nang iyong opisina.

VP Sara Duterte (VPSD): Mr. Chair, your honor, Usec. Lopez will answer the question.

SRH: Mr. Chair, it's a general question kung ano yung primary mandates ang ipu-pursue ni VP during the six years of her term, so kung maari po si VP ang sumagot.

VPSD: Yes, there will be only two permanent projects that we will lead in the Office of the VIce President. One is the permanent office and residence of the future vice presidents. The second is the vice president's museum. That's two. And the third is the omnibus law about the charter of the Office of the Vice President. So that's two.

SRH: Salamat kaayo, Madam VP. But I was asking po about primary mandates of your office. Ito po, I understand two or three permanent projects: Yung permanent office, yung VP's museum at saka yung omnibus law or charter governing the Office of the Vice President. But in terms of your office itself, ano yung primary mandates that you will seek to achieve as the vice president, Mr. Chair?

VPSD: The strategic direction is to institutionalize and implement socioeconomic services and key programs toward nation-building in support of the eight-point economic agenda of the Office of the President and his direction and the mandate of Bagong Pilipinas.

SSA: With your permission, your honor. Of course, she's also the concurrent secretary of the Department of Education, which as we all know is one of the toughest portfolios to hold in government.

SRH: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. Sigurado, it's one of the toughest portfolios to hold in government, pero nakikita ko po na concurrent iyon sa pagiging VP so hiwalay pa po yung primary mandates ng DepEd, which I'll ask in the hearing later, pero may iba pa pong mandates yung Office of the Vice President. So, at least initially nakikita ko yung primary mandates ng office niyo in support of the mandates and the programs of the Office of the President.

I hope, Mr. Chair, dahil pangalawang taon na ito ng panunungkulan ni VP, at least in the next budget hearings we can hear more specific and distinct mandates of the OVP kaysa lamang in support of yung mandates ng OP.

Ngayon naman po, Madam VP, Mr. Chair, the Office of the Vice President has been allocated confidential funds amounting to P500 million. According to Joint Circular No. 205-01 issued by the COA, DBM, DILG, GCG and DND, confidential funds refer to those expenses related to surveillance activities in civilian agencies that are intended to support the mandate and operations of that agency. So una pong tanong dito, Madam Vice President, which mandates of the Office of the Vice President will be supported by the aforementioned allocation of the confidential funds, Mr. Chair.

VPSD: Uhm, Mr. Chair, your honor, uh all of the projects of the Office of the Vice President uh use the confidential funds that is intended for the safe, secure and successful implementation of programs, projects and activities and engagements of uh the OVP and all of the satellite offices, including the central office of the Office of the Vice President.

SRH: Salamat, kaayo Madam VP. Kanina po sabi niyo ang primary mandate ng office niyo in the next six years would be in support of the primary mandates of the OP. So alin po sa mga primary mandates na iyon, as you conceive them in support of the primary mandates of the OP, alin sa mga primary mandates na iyon ang masusuportahan o specifically gagastusan ng confidential funds na ia-allocate ng Kongreso sa office niyo?

VPSD: Mr. Chair, your honor, the constitutional mandate of the Office of the Vice President is only to be a reserve, a benchwarmer in the event of... I do not want to mention it, but in the event that the president cannot discharge his functions. That is the constitutional mandate of the Office of the Vice President. Apart from that, all the other projects, programs and activities of the Office of the Vice President, will depend largely on the decision and discretion of the incumbent elected vice president.

So, uhm for my term, we decided on three permanent projects, the charter, the museum, and the permanent office and residence of the Office of the Vice President. And then uh, we took on uhm, the projects that uh, made the most impact when I was mayor of Davao City. These are the entrepreneurship program, the peace-building in communities, the Pagbabago advocacy campaign. We added the uhm, Pagbabago: A Million Trees in support of the mandate of the DENR. And then uh we have the Pansarap Program in support of the Department of Health and the Department of Education. And then we created the Disaster Operations Center in support of the NDRRMC and all those local governments who are asking for help from the Office of the Vice President when there are calamities and emergencies in their localities. And uh, we, the buses donated to me, I lent to the Office of the Vice President to support the Libreng Sakay program of the national government.

In addition to that, I discharge the functions and duties of the secretary of the Department of Education. And in addition to that, I was tasked by the president to co-chair the National Task Force on Ending Local Communist... NTF-ELCAC. And uh in addition to that, I also took on the role of president of the Southeast Asian Ministers, Education Ministers Organization (SEAMEO). And all of these activities use confidential funds.

SRH: Mr Chair, Madam Vice President, so nasagot nyo na yung follow up question ko na kung ang ibig nyo pong sabihin, lahat ng ito, starting with the benchwarming and being a reserved and then yung entrepreneurship program, yung peacebuilding, yung pangsarap yung million trees, yung pagbabago advocacy, yung disaster operation center, yung libreng sakay and yung binanggit nyong three permanent projects, the permanent office, the VP's museum and the Omnibus law or charter bawat isa sa mga ito gagastusan ng confidential funds ng opisina nyo?

VPSD: Uhh yes, uh mainly the confidential funds as I said, is uh for the safe, secure and successful implementations of the programs, projects and activities and engagements of the Office of the Vice President.

Uh sorry in addition Mr Chair, Your Honors, there are times uh when there are times when uh when the president is on offi- is on official tri- trips, travel abroad, uhm I chair the executive committee which uh is the caretaker of uh the Office of the Vice President. These-- this is an additional, dagdag trabaho sa lahat ng mga trabaho na namention ko po.

SRH: Of course Mr Chair, Madam Vice President, yung ibang items na binanggit ni madam VP na gagastusan diumano ng confidential funds specifically ng OVP tulad ng sa Deped, sa NTF-ELCAC, SEAMEO, pati yung executive committee pag wala si presidente e malamng sa hindi may sariling confidential funds na hindi na ginagastusan ng confidential funds na hinihingi ng Office of the Vice President. Madam VP, Mr Chair, furthermore, the Joint Circular I cited provides that confidential funds can only be used for a limited range of purposes, such as the rental of transport activities related to confidential activities. In broad terms po, saang activities na enumerated sa Joint Circular gagamitin yung confidential funds, just to refresh our memory doon pa sa 2015 Joint Resolution na yung confi funds can only be used for the following expenses: purchase of information necessary for the formulation and implementation of programs and activities and projects relevant to national security and peace and order, rentals and the incidental expenses related to the maintenance of safehouses purchase or rentals of supplies materials and equipment for confidential operations that cannot be done through regular procedures without compromising the information gathering activity concerned, payment of rewards to informers and uncovering and preventing illegal activities that pose a clear and present danger to agency personnel or property or other facilities or resources under the agency protection done in coordination with appropriate law enforcement agencies. Saang mga activities po na ito enumerated sa joint circular ay gagastusan ng confidential funds ng office nyo?

VPSD: Mr Chair, Your Honor, it varies... uh not all the activities are the same for each day and each month uh.. the liquidation of the confidential funds includes the enumeration of the use the Office of the Vice President, the confidential funds report that joint memorandum circular the confidential fund report submission to the Office of the Vice President, uh the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and uh the Commission on Audit and ah we submitted the list of activities to these offices.

SRH: Thank you Madam VP, Mr Chair, I will get to the liquidation report also later. So just to clarify Madam VP, since confidential funds refer to those agencies related to surveillance activities undertaken by civilian agencies ibig po bang sabihin na yung opisina ninyo will be gathering intelligence on certain subjects or entities in support sa inyong mandates or operation?

VPSD: Mr Chair, Your Honor, that is correct uhm as an example, uhm we did the surveillance of complaints uhm in constituents in Bulacan with regard to the selling of OVP assistance and selling of TUPAD projects in Bulacan and there was uh surveillance operation that was run by the VP SPG for about a month and uhm we were able to apprehend the person and we were able to successfully prosecute the case and that person uhh went to jail for "ilang months?" for six months so that is an example of the surveillance activities that is conducted by the VP SPG for ah the projects and activities for the Office of the Vice President, it was in Bulacan.

SRH: I asked this because the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency was established to direct, coordinate, and integrate national intelligence activities and this includes the collection of intelligence gathered from various sources. We'd like more information as to the intelligence operations of the OVP. Saang mga sources naggagather ng impormasyon yung OVP? Kukuha ba kayo ng intelligence mula sa ating existing intelligence services tulad ng NICA o tulad ng DND at PNP?

VPSD: Uhh Mr Chair. Your Honor, no. Intelligence starts uhh with the communities and the stakeholders and then if there are complaints, and then it is build up uhh through intelligence and surveillance services and then a dossier or report is started and then uhm it goes through levels uhh through the office of the vice president and the VP SPG so we do not uhm seek ahm intelligence reports from other government agencies but the intelligence reports starts from the ground and the communities that there the that are engaged by the Office of the Vice President.

SRH: Salamat kaayo, Madam VP, actually I'll get to that process also in a bit dahil mayroon pong established na intelligence cycle at mayroon pong established na chain of command for the intelligence activities nung ating gobyerno at ng ating republika at sa pagkaalam ko po, walang hiwalay na chain of command for intel ang OVP. In fact, ang susunod kong tanong ay how can your honorable office paano nyo po maaassure ang myembro nitong Komite na ang koleksyon ng intel ng inyong opisina hindi magreresulta sa redudancy or duplication of effort?

VPSD: Uhmm there is no redundancy and duplication of effort because we have different mandates uh from the other government agencies.

SRH: Indeed Mr Chair, Madam VP, different mandates and kanina nilista nyo na po yung iba't ibang mandates ng OVP mayroon ding klarong at complementary mandate ang intelligence community ng gobyerno sa ating bansa and as I had been saying since last year's budget debates, we should leave intelligence to the experts, just as we leave education to the deped and we leave the mandates of the OVP to the OVP. Ano po ba yung magiging subjects ng OVP intelligence gathering operations? Ano ang mga intensyon at capabilities ng mga subjects na ito na kailangan ng OVP nh intelligence on these? At paano nitong mga subjects tine-threaten ang operations ng OVP?

VPSD: Yes, uhm, the confidential funds ay- is used for the safe, secure and successful implementations of the projects, programs, activities and engagements of the Office of the Vice President.

SRH: Sino po yung subjects, ano ang intensyon at capabilities ng mga subjects at paano tine-threaten ng mga subjects na ito ang mga operasyon ng OVP?

VPSD: This is for the successful, safe, secure and successful implementation of uhh the projects, programs, and activities and engagements of the Office of the Vice Presidents. Uhm if the question is the subjects on who are the sources uhm we cannot divulge who are the sources of intel information, we can just say that uhh these are the stakeholders in the areas where there are engagements of the Office of the Vice President.

SRH: Hindi po sources, Madam VP, pero yung mga taong o grupong ginagatheran nyo ng opisina nyo ng intelligence?

VPSD: Yu-- yes, ahh those that are perceived to be threats in the successful, safe and secure implementation of the PPAs.

SRH: Salamat Madam VP, I need to follow up -

Sen. Koko Pimentel: I give you my five minutes

SRH: I need it pursue that in greater detail than is being made available right now, doon na lang po sa plenary, Madam VP paano po irerecruit ng OVP at ite-train ang intelligence operatives at agents na kakailangin ng office para i-gather ang information para sa intelligence collection plan? Hanggang saang extent magrerely ang OVP sa humint at sigint para sa information collection requirements ng office?

VPSD: Yes uh thank you Mr chair, Your Honor, uhm the vice presidential security and protection group coordinate with the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines unfortunately, however, the commander of the VP SPG is not present here this morning.

SRH: Salamat kaayo madam VP doon sa sagot na ang VP SPG coordinates with the PNP and AFP, ibig po bang sabihin ang OVP ang mag rerecruit and train ng mga operatives at ahente? Or yung PNP at AFP ang magtetrain sa mga operatives at ahente ng OVP?

VPSD: Uhm Mr Chair Your Honor unfortunately I cannot answer the question uh the commander of the VP SPG, uh we failed to include him in the list of the resource persons this morning.

Chair Sonny Angara: Again, if you can put your questions in writing we could submit it to the Office of the Vice President and maybe if possible, if they, because some of these matters are quite sensitive so you can give them in an executive session or give them in a sealed envelope in writing at your pleasure Madam Vice President.

VPSD: Mr. Chair, Your Honor we can easily do that we can ask them to submit the secretariat of the committee.

SRH: Salamat Madam VP, and salamat Mr Chair, I look forward to that information to be submitted in writing to the committee through the chair and I'm glad marinig tungkol sa coordination sa PNP and AFP dahil sila yung dalawa sa primary na halimbawa na may expertise sa intel at may mandate sa intel at gumaganap ng mga mandates in coordination with civilian agencies including the OVP and I look forward also doon sa mga sagot tungkol sa humint at sigint na gagamitin either ng OVP or OVP in coordination with AFP and PNP. At madam VP paano iko-collate, ng OVP, i-store, ika-catalogue, isi-search through yung intelligence na kokolektahin at anong IT infrastructure ang kakailanganin ng office nyo?

VPSD: Uhm yes uhh Mr Chair Your Honor, these are confidential matters that we cannot divulge in open session thank you.

SRH: So if possible, Madam VP,, Mr Chair maisubmit din in writing to the committee through Mr Chair

VPSD: Uhm Mr Chair Your Honor, yes, thank you!

SRH: Salamat kaayo and then ano po paano po ini-intend ng OVP na i-process at i-analyze yung information na kokolektahin para maprodiuce ng actionable intelligence kakailanganin nyo bang i-outsource ang parte na ito ng intelligence cycle or magdedevelop ba ang office ng capability in house?

VPSD: Uhm.. Mr Chair., Your Honor, we can ask the VP SPG to include that in their report ah the VP SPG are composed of ah personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police and some of them are trained in ah intelligence gathering and ah are ahm part of intel units ah from the PNP and AFP. Ahm there are no civilian uhm members in the VP SPG. Thank you.

SRH: Madam VP paano iaadjust ng OVP yung operations ninyo bilang resulta ng intelligence na makokolekta, maaanalyze at saka made-disseminate?

VPSD: uhm we adjust according to the recommendations and the assessment of uh the VP SPG with regard to their appreciation ah of the intel information

SRH: Salamat Madam VP and yung parte nga po na yun na nagaadjust ang VP SPG or rather nag aadjust ang buong opisina sa rekomendasyon ng VP SPG, I assume ay bunga na rin ng coordination nila doon sa PNP at AFP, again, isang konkretong halimbawa na yung primary mandates para sa intelligence cycle, yung buong intelligence cycle at naka lodge doon sa intelligence agencies including in the armed services ng ating gobyerno at yung OVP kahit through the VP SPG ay pumasok doon sa yung end point ng cycle na iyon sa paggamit ng intelligence doon nga sa sinabi nyo sa pag adjust ayon sa rekomendasyon ng VP SPG. Just returning again to one of my original points na iwan natin ang intelligence sa experts doon sa intelligence agencies ng gobyerno in the same way na yung mga civilian agencies ng gobyerno whether OVP itself or kahit DepEd kumbaga shop nila yung kanilang mandates at kanilang expertise.

Huling tanong na lang po yung activities na binanggit ng OVP kanina hindi ba part na rin ng regular law enforcement work na yung mga law enforcement agencies natin ay ginagawa na rin?

VPSD: Uhm, Mr Chair, Your Honor uhm we have different mandates uhm from the other government agencies so our intelligence, our confidential funds are used according to joint circular 2015-01 and whatever we gather from our uh confidential funds and surveillance we share it with uh mainly the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as well as they share as well as intelligence information that ah they gather which are not included in our database. Thank you

SRH: Thank you kaayo Madam VP, I'm glad to hear na nagsheshare or magsheshare ang OVP ng information na nakolekta ninyo sa AFP at PNP again because it makes the point na sila talaga ang primary na may mandato talaga not any other civilian agencies, sila talaga ang kasama sa may mandato sa intel work lastly, just to make of record also, continuing from yung pagbanggit ko sa 2015 joint resolution na what the confidential funds may also be used for, nakasulat din doon sa 2015 joint resolution na confidential and intelligence funds cannot be used for salaries, wages, overtime additional compensation allowance or other fringe benefits of officials and employees who are employed by the government in whatever capacity or elected officials except when authorized by law, confi and intel funds cannot be used for representation, consultancy fees, or entertainment expenses, or construction or acquisition of buildings and housing structures. So, daghang salamat, madam VP ,maraming salamat Mr Chair, I'll pursue in plenary periods of interpellation and amendments one of my main subjects of debate with the OVP na yung confi at intel funds ay mas properly lodged talaga doon sa ibang line items ng opisina mismo o sa mga intelligence agencies talaga ng ating gobyerno na ginagawa ang mga mandates na ito even for the civilian agencies and offices and departments like the OVP. Salamat.



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