Lagman wants P9.29-B in 'excessive' confidential funds scrapped from 2023 budget

Lagman wants P9.29-B in 'excessive' confidential funds scrapped from 2023 budget
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr delivers his first State of the Nation address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 25, 2022.
Aaron Favila via AFP / pool

MANILA, Philippines — Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) is calling for the scrapping of the P9.29 billion in "excessive" confidential and intelligence funds requested by several government agencies in fear that it may lead to graft and corruption within the government. 

"This total amount is much bigger than the appropriations of many government offices and departments, including the constitutional commissions and offices," Lagman said in a statement on Monday. The funds and how they are spent are not subject to audit.

He called out the offices under Vice President Sara Duterte for having confidential funds — the Office of the Vice President is asking the government for P500 million, while the Department of Education that she also heads is asking for P150 million. 

Duterte explained that both funds will be used independently of each other. She also said that previous vice presidents also had confidential funds, although those were in smaller amounts.

The vice president also said that the confidential funds for the education department would be used to maximize the agency's programs “to target specific issues and challenges” through “good intelligence and surveillance.”

RELATED: Sara getting separate confidential funds as Vice President, DepEd chief 

However, Lagman maintained that the OVP is “not a surveillance agency and has no jurisdiction over matters of national security.”

Aside from the OVP, the Office of the President under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is also asking for P4.6 billion worth of intelligence and confidential funds

Lagman echoes the sentiments of several groups that raised concern these funds may further breed corruption within the government.

“Since the utilization of confidential and intelligence funds are shrouded in mystery and the supposed audit by the Commission on Audit could not be disclosed to the Congress and the public, these funds breed corruption, and the more enormous the funds are, the greater the magnitude is for the possibility of graft,” he said.

Lagman was elected last week as president of the minority Liberal Party. — with reports from Xave Gregorio, James Relativo, and Janvic Mateo/The STAR





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