FORMER President Rodrigo R. Duterte has called the Philippine House of Representatives the “most rotten institution” in the country after her daughter Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio was stripped of hundreds of millions of pesos in confidential funds for next year.

The chamber, which he accused of corruption, should be investigated, he told SMNI News on Tuesday night.

“There is no limit to their pork barrel,” Mr. Duterte said, referring to the practice of some lawmakers in appropriating budgets for district projects that the Supreme Court outlawed in 2013.

Philippine congressmen on Tuesday stripped several agencies including the Office of the Vice President (OVP) of their confidential funds, transferring P1.23 billion worth of these funds to security agencies amid worsening tensions with China.

Ms. Duterte-Carpio had sought P500 million in confidential funds for her office and another P150 million for the Education department, which she also heads.

Mr. Duterte accused Speaker Martin G. Romualdez of orchestrating the attacks against her daughter, whom he described as a “good candidate” for the presidency.

“Inday is perceived to be a good candidate,” he said, referring to Ms. Duterte-Carpio. “But I’m saying now Inday, as far as I’m concerned, should not run for president.”

Mr. Duterte had denied plans to run for President but eventually did so in 2016 supposedly due to the clamor from his political supporters.

Social media influencers supportive of the Dutertes have criticized the extraordinary and miscellaneous funds of the House and Senate worth P1.6 billion and P331.9 million, respectively this year.

“Now, Duterte defenders are trying to spin this as if it is a gotcha moment for the House,” political analyst Antonio Contreras said in a Facebook post. “They make an issue of the fact that receipts are allegedly not required if the budget is not exceeded.”

He said extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses — a normal budget item not only for Congress, but for all agencies — are usually used for meetings, conferences and representation. “Even the OVP and DepEd would have this item.”

Mr. Duterte’s tirade showed the tension between his daughter and Mr. Romualdez had “reached a new level,” Arjan P. Aguirre, who teaches political science at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

“Here you now have the former President making an offensive against critics of VP Sara,” he said, describing it as a political move to stop a decline in the popularity of the Duterte camp.

Mr. Aguirre said it remains to be seen whether Mr. Duterte could still mobilize support for his daughter.

The approval and trust ratings of the president and vice president declined, according to a Pulse Asia Research, Inc. poll last month.

Traditional politicians who started their career at the local level are fond of accusing their enemies of corruption to divert accusations against them, Hansley A. Juliano, a political science lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

“When one camp accuses you of corruption, you accuse them back.”

The corruption allegations hounding the ruling coalition provide opportunities for opposition forces to push for greater accountability, said Maria Ela L. Atienza, who teaches political science at the University of the Philippines.

“This is also an opportunity to inform the public of the importance of accountability and transparency as well as the role of the opposition and citizens to demand answers and better performance from these people in charge of using public funds,” he said in a Viber message.

Tensions in the ruling coalition are inevitable because Philippine parties are still based on personalities, she said.

The UniTeam tandem of Mr. Marcos and Ms. Duterte-Carpio swept the 2022 elections, “but the harder challenge is to govern together when all factions of the winning team have vested interests.” “Now, they are preparing for the midterm and 2028 elections.”

Meanwhile, the Commission on Audit (CoA) said the Office of the President spent P4.5 billion in confidential and intelligence funds this year.

The Office of the Vice President spent P125 million in confidential funds, while Congress spent zero of these budgets, CoA said in an audit report.

The Department of Interior and Local Government spent P60.6 million in confidential funds, while its intelligence expenses hit P1.12 billion.

The Department of National Defense has spent P37.43 million and P1.74 billion in confidential and intelligence funds, respectively.

The Finance department spent P60.53 million in confidential funds, while the Environment department spent P8.05 million, it said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs had P10 million in confidential expenses, while the Department of Justice spent confidential funds worth P302.13 million.

The Social Welfare department spent P20 million in confidential funds, while the Transportation department spent P10 million in intelligence funds and P475,00 in confidential budget, CoA said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Beatriz Marie D. Cruz