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MANILA, Philippines – The executive branch is seeking P10.14 billion in confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) across all government agencies for 2024, a bulk of which would go to the offices of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte if approved.
Based on the proposed P5.768-trillion spending plan which was turned over to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, August 2, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is requesting an intelligence fund totaling P5.28 billion, and a confidential fund worth P4.86 billion.
The total is slightly higher than the confidential and intelligence funds for the current fiscal year 2023 worth P10.01 billion.
Before the documents were uploaded on the DBM website, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman had told reporters the proposed CIF for next year was P9.2 billion.
The Office of the President (OP) would get nearly half of it based on the proposal, at P4.56 billion (P2.25 billion in confidential funds and P2.3 billion in intelligence funds).
Duterte’s Office of the Vice President requested P500 million, and her Department of Education sought P150 million.
The Department of Agriculture – also led by Marcos – wants P50 million in confidential funds for 2024. The agency does not have confidential funds for the current year.
House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro flagged the proposed increase worth P119 million in the CIF for 2024.
“Again, civilian offices and agencies with no business in intelligence gathering or law enforcement are given so much presidential pork in the form of CIF,” she said on Thursday, August 3.
Last year, opposition lawmakers fought tooth and nail to remove the DepEd’s confidential funds for 2023, but the budget was eventually restored in the bicameral conference committee.
Pangandaman said on Wednesday that safeguards are in place over the use of the funds.
“The Commission on Audit has guidelines on how to use the funds. It’s not like they can just actually disburse and use the budget once given to them. There is full transparency in terms of the request of these funds,” she added.
A 2015 joint circular released by five government agencies defines confidential expenses as those pertaining to surveillance activities in civilian government agencies, while intelligence expenses are those related to intel information-gathering activities of uniformed and military personnel that have direct impact on national security.
Before Marcos’ predecessor Rodrigo Duterte became president, confidential and intelligence fund allocations under the OP did not exceed P1 billion.
The House of Representatives will scrutinize the executive department’s budget for the next months, and is targeting to pass it before the chamber goes on a break in October. – Rappler.com