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Sara: UniTeam intact, but checking impeach rumors

VP Sara Duterte
Charles Dantes

Vice President Sara Duterte on Sunday said she believed she still has the trust of President Marcos even as her office is doing “due diligence” on rumors that there are moves to impeach her.

“We’re okay,” Duterte said during a chance interview in Quezon City.

“I believe that I still have the trust of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr,” she added.

The vice president said that her office is looking into the reported impeachment efforts and would release a statement at the right time.

She also said she has no desire to run for the presidency in 2028.

“I did not really aspire to run for Vice President, more so for president. You all know that. As I have said, I don’t want to run for president,” she said.

“Everything we do, we can only plan, but it will truly be God’s plan that will prevail,” she added.

Her statement came amid reports of a growing rift inside the “UniTeam” coalition, which was built to support the Marcos-Duterte tandem during the 2022 presidential election.

The impeachment talk followed a decision by Congress to remove P650 million in confidential and intelligence funds that were proposed for the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, agencies that Duterte leads.

Also, the removal of a key Duterte ally, former President and Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as deputy speaker, further fueled talk of an impending impeachment.

Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab, another Duterte supporter, has also been stripped of his role as deputy speaker.

In May, Duterte resigned her position as chairperson of Lakas-DMD, which was her top campaign donor in 2022, with P139 million in in-kind contributions.

Last week, House Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe dismissed talk of an impeachment bid against Duterte as “unfounded rumors.”

“The speculation of House leaders planning to impeach the vice president is unfounded,” Dalipe said in a statement.

He said those circulating the rumor aimed to sow political division between the vice president and Speaker Martin Romualdez.

“There is no truth in them. These rumors are without merit,” Dalipe said.

Dalipe also reassured supporters of the Vice President.

“If she has not committed any wrongdoing, there is no reason for concern about these baseless rumors,” he said.

Last week, the Supreme Court was asked to order the Office of the Vice President to return the P125 million confidential funds it spent in 2022 to the government’s treasury, saying these were “unconstitutional.”

The petitioners said the transfer of funds from the Office of the President to the OVP was an exercise of legislative power.

Duterte welcomed the filing of the petition, saying this would give her a chance to clear her name.

The petitioners included former Commission on Elections chairman Augusto Lagman, Constitution framer Christian Monsod, former Finance undersecretary Maria Cielo Magno, Commission on Filipinos Overseas chairperson Imelda Nicolas, and lawyer Ibarra Gutierrez III, ex-spokesman of former Vice President Leni Robredo.

“Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the power of appropriation falls exclusively within the domain of the legislative branch of government. Congress decides how the budget will be spent,

what programs, activities, and projects (PAP) to fund, and the amounts of money to be spent for each PAP,” their petition said.

“Verily, the appropriation done by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) is a clear usurpation of the legislative powers of the Congress of the Philippines to create and fund an item that has not been done so by the Congress itself.”

The petitioners argued that there is no “delegated legislative power” in the transfer and that confidential funds do not fall under the funding allowed by the contingent fund.

The transfer, they said, was also a circumvention of accountability.

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