The government is asking Congress to again approve a P4.5 billion allocation for intelligence and confidential funds under President Rodrigo Duterte’s office in its last pandemic budget.
The 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP), submitted to the legislative branch on Monday, August 23, shows the Duterte administration proposing P2.25 billion each for intelligence and confidential funds under the Office of the President.
The 2022 NEP is basically the executive branch’s budget proposal which the House of Representatives and Senate is supposed to study before approving their version in the form of a budget bill. The bill then goes to Duterte for his signature. When it is signed, it becomes the final national budget for 2022.
The total national budget proposed by the Duterte government is P5.024 trillion. Four percent of this has been earmarked for COVID-19 pandemic response.
If approved, Duterte’s office will be getting the same amount in intelligence and confidential funds it has been getting since 2020.
From 2017 to 2019, the Office of the President had sought P2.5 billion for intelligence and confidential funds (or P1.25 billion each). That amount had already raised eyebrows back then because it was five times the confidential and intelligence funds requested during the last year of the Benigno Aquino III administration: P250 million each.
The P4.5 billion intelligence and confidential funds requested for 2022 is more than half of the entire proposed OP budget of P8.2 billion for the year.
The 2022 national budget is the Duterte administration’s last budget, it’s last chance to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The year 2022 is also an election year, supercharging concerns over how the Duterte government will use its funds. – Rappler.com