House of Representatives

House denies 2024 confidential fund requests of OVP, DepEd, DA, DICT, DFA

Dwight de Leon

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House denies 2024 confidential fund requests of OVP, DepEd, DA, DICT, DFA

TOP LEADERS. File photo shows President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte during Brigada Eskwela in August 2023.

Presidential Communications Office

A total of P1.23 billion in confidential funds were realigned to agencies at the forefront of efforts to assert the Philippines' territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives decided to strip five government agencies – one under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and two under Vice President Sara Duterte – of their proposed confidential funds in the 2024 budget bill.

Editor’s Note. An earlier version of this story reported that the DFA requested P5 million in confidential funds for 2024. This has been corrected.

The agencies and their confidential fund requests are the following:

  • Office of the Vice President: P500 million
  • Department of Information and Communications Technology: P300 million
  • Department of Education: P150 million
  • Department of Agriculture: P50 million
  • Department of Foreign Affairs: P50 million

Combined, the confidential funds removed from these offices amount to P1.05 billion.

In a statement on Tuesday, October 10, House appropriations committee chairperson Zaldy Co said a total of P1.23 billion in confidential funds were realigned to agencies at the forefront of efforts to assert the Philippines’ territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea.

These agencies are:

  • Department of Transportation: P381.8 million for the development of Pag-asa Island Airport
  • National Intelligence Coordinating Agency: P300 million
  • Philippine Coast Guard: P200 million for intelligence activities and ammunition
  • National Security Council: P100 million

Co said the following agencies will still receive the following amounts, although they will not be confidential in nature, since these augment agencies’ maintenance and other operating expenses:

  • DepEd: P150 million for the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education
  • Office of the Ombudsman: P50 million
  • Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources: P30 million
  • DFA: P30 million
  • DICT: P25 million

A small committee composed of Co, senior vice appropriations chairperson Stella Quimbo, House Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe, and House Minority Leader Nonoy Libanan finalized the amendments nearly two weeks after the 2024 spending plan was approved by the chamber on final reading.

The House’s decision to deny Duterte’s request for confidential funds in 2024 was first made public on September 27, after major political parties in the House agreed to augment the budgets of West Philippine Sea-concerned agencies using the spy funds.

The move was triggered by China’s installation of a 300-meter floating barrier in the southeast portion of Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) – a move that prevented Filipino fishermen from fishing in the area.

Some critics have pointed out that the Coast Guard – which received a combined P118 million in secret funds in the past 17 years – is much more deserving of confidential funds than Duterte’s OVP, which spent its P125-million confidential fund within an 11-day period in December 2022.

Duterte is in hot water for issues on transparency regarding those funds.

Her office was not supposed to have such funds in the first place, since she only continued using the budget of her predecessor Leni Robredo, whose office did not request confidential funds in 2022.

It was later established that Duterte sought confidential funds from the Department of Budget and Management, and the request was approved by the Office of the President (OP).

Critics have flagged the release of funds as unconstitutional since the power to appropriate lies with Congress. Several officials have defended Duterte, trying to justify the allocations on her behalf.

For 2024, the Marcos administration is seeking P10.1 billion in secret funds, which are difficult to audit because they are exempted from standard procedures of the Commission on Audit.

Based on the proposal, the OP would get nearly half of it or P4.56 billion. It appears that such a request remained intact in the House version of the budget bill.

Separate discussions on the budget bill are underway in the Senate, and changes made by the House are not final until they are approved in the bicameral level. –


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  1. RL

    I should say, “Thank you ” to the house committee on appropriations. But I still feel like we still need to monitor that none will be transferred from one executive office to another just like last year. And those who don’t deserve confidential/intelligence funds will not get any.

  2. ET

    Is this true? Or is the House of Appropriations Committee just projecting a good show? Are they just following the order of House Speaker Romualdez, a possible candidate against VP Sara Duterte in the coming 2028 Presidential Election? It seems that the Speaker won the first round. At least for this moment, it is false to say that “What Sara wants, Sara gets.” (Note: I can imagine and feel how angry SWOH now is. Her enemies should beware.)

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.