After Quiapo blasts, Senate creates panel to probe use of intel funds
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, May 8, adopted the resolution seeking to create an oversight committee to check how government uses intelligence and confidential funds, after the twin bombings in Quiapo, Manila.
Senator Gregorio Honasan, chair of the committee on national defense and security, filed Senate Resolution 361 “to enable the Senate to oversee the efficiency” of government institutions to deal with threats.
Honasan was also made the chairman of the oversight committee, with Senators Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Manny Pacquiao, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and Francis Pangilinan as members.
“In light of the recent threats to our country’s national security, including disturbance to peace and order by lawless elements, the importance of gathering intelligence information by concerned government agencies cannot be overstated,” Honasan said in the resolution.
In the 2017 national budget, P5.48 billion was allocated for confidential and intelligence funds “to implement programs and activities of the government, relative to national defense, peace and order, and national security.”
But these, Honasan noted, are not subject to the regular auditing rules and procedures of the Commission on Audit.
In the previous Congresses, the Senate had a Select Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds.
Section 14, Rule 10 of the Senate provided that whenever necessary, special committees shall be organized, the membership and jurisdiction of which shall be determined by the Senate President.
Failure of intelligence?
Senator Panfilo Lacson welcomed the measure, saying there is a need to review the output of military and police intelligence.
Citing the recent twin blasts in Quiapo, Lacson said the more than P5-billion intelligence funds should be enough to thwart such plots.
“Bakit nagkakaroon ng failure of intelligence eh ang total intelligence funds sa mga agencies, sa P5 billion mahigit? So di pa ba sapat 'yan para magampanan ang tungkulin ng intelligence people ang ma-prevent ang ganyang klase? Kasi may effect 'yan. Di ito ang ordinary murder or double murder kasi dalawa namatay, kundi may effect ito maski sa investment, tourism. May impact sa buong country,” Lacson said in an interview.
(Why is there a failure of intelligence when the total intelligence funds of agencies amount to more than P5 billion? So isn't that enough for intelligence people to perform their duties to prevent such casualties? Because it has an effect. This is not an ordinary murder or double murder because two died, but because this has an effect even on investment, tourism. This has an impact on the whole country.)
“That’s adding insult to injury. Kung saan dapat heightened ang alert, bakit nangyayari? (Why did it happen when there wsa heightened alert?) So dapat talaga tingnan din nila saan sila nag-fail in terms of intelligence-gathering (So they should really look where there was failure in terms of intelligence-gathering),” he added.
The new oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds in the 17th Congress willl allow the Senate “to continue exercising its oversight functions over the use, disbursement and expenditures of confidential and intelligence funds granted to certain government agencies; and to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the conduct of these activities.” – Rappler.com