This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MANILA, Philippines – Prior to hearings on the proposed 2024 national budget, a special Senate panel will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 6, to discuss the use of confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) of various government agencies.
Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said this during a Rappler Talk interview on Thursday, August 31, when he was asked if he favored the P150-million CIF funds of the Department of Education (DepEd) in the proposed budget.
“I just activated for Wednesday a hearing of the special committee on confidential funds right before the discussion on different budgets of government agencies,” Zubiri said, adding that it will be attended by senators, including the two-member minority bloc consisting of Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel and Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros.
Zubiri said the hearing will be held in an executive session since they will tackle issues of national security.
“Being it a confidential fund, ayaw rin natin malaman ng taumbaayan ano ang pinaggamitan nito for (we don’t want the public to know how it was used) intelligence purposes, national security purposes,” he said.
In November 2022, the Senate formed a body that would oversee the more than P9.28 billion in confidential and intelligence funds distributed across agencies in the 2023 budget, following a tradition since the 10th Congress.
Asked if the Department of Education, led by Vice President Sara Duterte, would need CIF funds in its budget, the Senate President said that they will first check if the CIF funds of the agency have been properly spent.
“Kapag nakita po natin na ang isang ahensiya, katulad ng Deparment of Education, na hindi maganda ang paggamit ng rondo, puwede po tayo gumawa ng corrective measures for 2024. Puwedeng bawasan, puwedeng ilipat sa ibang ahensiya,” Zubiri said.
(If we see that an agency, like the Department of Education, didn’t spend the fund properly, we can make corrective measures for 2024. We can cut it, and transfer to another agency.)
He said that when the DepEd’s proposed 2023 budget had been presented to the the Senate, he was convinced that the agency would need the funds.
“I was one of those who voted in favor of the budget. At that point in time, maganda ‘yung explanation ng secretary ng DepEd. Ang kolatilya namin hihimayin namin ‘yan sa susunod na taon (the secretary of education had a good explanation. Our condition was that we would scrutinize it the following year), which is now,” Zubiri added.
Amid criticisms, the Congress granted the request of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte for P150 million in CIF funds for 2023. Duterte said that the funds will be used for surveillance and security of students. (READ: Security and surveillance? Duterte defends DepEd’s P150-million confidential funds)
Critics have scored the DepEd’s request for CIF funds for 2024, citing what they called the misplaced priorities of the Vice President. The country lacks 159,000 classrooms for the current school year and is suffering learning crisis. – Rappler.com