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MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Sara Duterte said on Monday, September 4 she was not insisting to have confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) in her office’s budget, but that the money makes their work at the Office of the Vice President (OVP) “easier.”
“We can only propose but we are not insisting. We can live without confidential funds but of course our work will be much easier if we have the flexibility of confidential funds in monitoring the safe, secure, and successful implementations of the programs and projects and activities of the OVP,” Duterte said as she faced senators during the Senate budget deliberations on the OVP.
It was the second time that Duterte requested for a CIF allocation of P500 million, after making the same request last year. On Monday, the Senate panel approved her P2.3-billion budget for 2024, including the hefty confidential funds.
Duterte’s predecessor, Leni Robredo, did not have confidential funds.
In the 2022 budget, the OVP had no allotments for confidential funds. Yet, later, budget documents and audit reports show that Duterte spent P125 million in confidential funds in 2022, the first year she assumed office.
Duterte said that she requested the Office of the President P125 million which was granted through the Department of Budget Management.
During the budget hearing, Deputy Senate Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros asked Duterte about the OVP programs and mandate, and the need for CIF.
In response, Duterte said that while the vice president is “[a] reserve, a benchwarmer” position, her office has three permanent projects – the charter, the museum, and the permanent office and residence of the OVP.
“These are the entrepreneurship program, the peace-building in communities, the Pagbabago advocacy campaign,” she said.
Unconvinced, Hontiveros pressed further,“Bawat isa sa mga ito, gagastusan ng confidential funds ng opisina nyo?” (Each of this will use confidential funds through your office?)
Duterte replied, “Yes, mainly the confidential funds, as I said, is for the safe, secure and successful implementations of the programs, projects and activities and engagements of the Office of the Vice President.”
Confidential funds are supposed to be used for “surveillance activities in civilian government agencies that are intended to support the mandate or operations of the said agency.”
Hontiveros quizzed Duterte over the need for P500 million CIF, as the Department of National Defense and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency in the proposed 2024 budget were allocated P97 million and P341.2 million, respectively. – Rappler.com