Lacson questions billions in intel funds allocated to Duterte’s office in proposed 2021 budget

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Lacson questions billions in intel funds allocated to Duterteâs office in proposed 2021 budget
Sen. Panfilo Lacson attending a plenary session of the upper chamber on Sept. 8, 2020.
Released / Senate PRIB, Joseph Vidal

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ping Lacson on Friday said he intends to question the country's economic managers over the proposed intelligence funds allocated to President Rodrigo Duterte's office for 2021 which he found to be a little excessive. 

“We want to find out, and I myself intend to ask this question when the Office of the President’s budget is up for discussion. When you say P4.5 billion a year under one agency, which is the Office of the President, which is not a big office, how do they spend that? That's the question,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino during an interview with ANC's "Headstart."

Lacson added that though the amount requested by the chief executive's office is a little lower compared to 2020, he still finds it "a bit too much." 

In total, Duterte's office is seeking an P8.23 billion budget for 2021, which is slightly lower than the 8.25 billion it received in 2020. 

Under this same fund, P2.25 billion each is allocated for confidential expenses and intelligence expenses. 

Given this, Lacson said he intends to find out how the Office of the President has previously spent its intelligence funds. 

He further recalled that when intelligence and confidential funds were first allocated to the president's office, it was by the hundreds of millions rather than billions. 

"It started I think with P700 plus million. I cannot recall anymore which administration and then it ballooned to something like P2 billion, P2.5 billion and now it’s more than P4 billion just for the Office of the President,” Lacson said. 

The former Philippine National Police chief also pointed out that Duterte can control the release of intelligence funds under other agencies in the executive department.

"The president has more control over other intelligence funds of the entire bureaucracy," he said, citing in specific the Department of National Defense, the PNP, the Bureau of Customs, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue which all of have their own intelligence funds. 

Lacson also noted that the Office of the President further receives "billions of pesos a year" in remittances from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

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