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The House of Representatives on Thursday, October 12, clarified that its funds for “confidential intelligence and extraordinary expenses” are used mostly for the upkeep of the chamber.
This includes financing training activities, scholarships, travel, and other supplies that might be needed by lawmakers as the line item falls under its P1.6-billion budget for “maintenance and other operating expenses.”
Emergency expenses, such as hospitalization needs and the death of a family member of their constituent as well as funding to help the public following natural disasters, are also classified as “extraordinary expenses.”
In the proposed 2024 budget, lawmakers at the lower house are suggesting that it should instead be classified as “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses” to avoid confusion.
“We do not have activities that can be classified as confidential and intelligence operation,” House Secretary-General Reginald Velasco said in Filipino during an interview with Radyo 630 on Wednesday.
“It is not in our mandate to monitor insurgency,” he added.
The clarification comes after former president Rodrigo Duterte, in an interview on SMNI, accused the House of being the most rotten institution in the government. He also claimed corruption was rampant among lawmakers.
The former president was defending his daughter, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte, who came under fire for her P500-million and P150-million requests for confidential funds for the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, respectively, which the House denied.
‘We passed the COA audit’
The House already clarified on Tuesday that they had “no confidential and intelligence funds.” They also said it regularly does its own checks and balances in accordance to auditing rules and regulations.
“As per [the] latest COA report released only last October 2, the House of Representatives has no disallowances. No notice of suspension and no notice of charge,” Velasco said.
Velasco further explained a day after that lawmakers are required to submit a monthly report on how they spent extraordinary funds, which are then audited by an in-house auditor from COA.
“They would check all the documents we submit on behalf of the congressmen, then they will issue a report,” Velasco said. – Rappler.com