Duterte spent entire P4.5 billion allocation for confidential, intel funds in 2021

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Duterte spent entire P4.5 billion allocation for confidential, intel funds in 2021
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on May 13, 2021.
Presidential Photo / Robinson Niñal Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Rodrigo Duterte spent the entire P4.5 billion allocation for confidential and intelligence funds for his office in his last full year as chief executive, according to the Commission on Audit.

The COA said in its annual financial report on national government agencies that the OP under Duterte spent P2.25 billion in confidential expenses and another P2.25 billion in intelligence expenses in 2021.

This is slightly lower compared to the confidential and intelligence expenses of Duterte's office in 2020, when it spent a total of P4.57 billion in those expenditures — more than what it was allotted in the national budget for that year.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Confidential and intelligence funds

Duterte rejected a provision in the 2021 budget that would have required the executive branch to submit quarterly reports on the use of intelligence funds to Congress, arguing that matters relating to national security is exempted from the right to information.

Duterte's office in 2021 accounted for nearly half of all confidential and intelligence expenses of national government agencies, dwarfing the confidential and intelligence spending of the Department of National Defense, which only accounted for 20.48% of the P9.08 billion total.

The DND came far second to Duterte's OP as it only spent P1.86 billion for confidential and intelligence expenses, while other executive offices came in third at roughly P1.4 billion.

Other national government agencies that logged confidential and intelligence expenses are the following:

  • Department of the Interior and Local Government – P908.45 million
  • Department of Justice – P258.21 million
  • Department of Finance – P60.63 million
  • Department of Foreign Affairs – P31.75 million
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development – P20.04 million
  • Department of Transportation – P16.85 million
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources – P15 million
  • Other departments/offices – P13.71 million

Since at least 2006, the offices of the president and the vice president typically got confidential funds but at more modest amounts compared to Duterte and even to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

For example, in the last budget submitted under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her office asked for P600 million in confidential and intelligence funds, which amounts to around P930 million when adjusted for inflation.

Even more modest were the confidential and intelligence funds requested by Benigno Aquino III, who in his last budget asked for only P500 million in total, amounting to just a little under P600 million in today’s money.

Confidential and intelligence funds are lump sum allocations set aside in the national budget for expenses that involve surveillance and intelligence information gathering activities.

As its name suggests, confidential funds are for confidential expenses related to surveillance activities in civilian government agencies that are intended to support their mandate or operations.

Similarly, intelligence funds are for intelligence expenses related to information gathering activities of uniformed and military personnel and intelligence practitioners that have direct impact on national security.

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