Pimentel to let Marcos keep confidential funds, but will seek cut in intel funds

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said Tuesday he will let the office of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. keep the P2.25 billion it is requesting in confidential funds, but will still try to have the other P2.25 billion it is asking for intelligence funds cut.

“I’m entertaining siguro as a compromise. ‘Yung P2.25 billion niya na confidential funds hayaan na natin pero hindi siya intelligence practitioner eh. User ‘yun of information. So ‘yung P2.25 billion niya na intelligence funds, ‘yun ang pwede niyang i-let go,” Pimentel told reporters in a chance interview.

(I’m maybe entertaining a compromise. Its P2.25 billion in confidential funds, we’ll let it slide, but it’s not an intelligence practitioner. It’s a user of information. So the P2.25 billion in intelligence funds can be let go.)

The Office of the President under Marcos requested a total of P4.5 billion in confidential and intelligence funds, the same amount that his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, asked for in the 2022 budget.

Confidential funds are expenses related to surveillance activities in civilian government agencies that are intended to support their mandate or operations, while intelligence funds are for expenses related to information gathering activities of uniformed and military personnel and intelligence practitioners that have direct impact on national security.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Confidential, intel funds in the national budget

Pimentel has been waging a crusade against confidential and intelligence funds during the Senate’s plenary deliberations on the proposed 2023 budget, with him signaling that he would be moving to realign these hard-to-audit funds toward other line items in the spending plan which he believes to be “more important.”

READ: Pimentel: Realign confidential, intel funds for disaster response

“Pagdating sa confidential funds, ang ating position ay alisin na lahat ‘yan because that is not good practice. ‘Di mo naman assignment ‘yang intelligence work or law enforcement work eh. So as much as possible, we will reduce or delete confidential funds,” Pimentel said.

(When it comes to confidential funds, our position is to remove all that because that is not good practice. Intelligence work or law enforcement work is not your assignment. So as much as possible, we will reduce or delete confidential funds.)

But Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, who sponsored the OP’s budget last Thursday, said Marcos is “not just a user but a gatherer of information.”

“There may be individuals who are not willing to give that information to a large organization and expose themselves. But if they know that information is going directly to the president, then that would encourage them to give that information,” Angara said.

Apart from seeking a slash in the OP’s intelligence funds, Pimentel is also seeking to cut confidential funds of all other civilian agencies as he argued that giving them these lump sum allocations is a “bad practice.”

Among the agencies that Pimentel wants to excise confidential funds from are the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, which are both headed by Vice President Sara Duterte.

The Senate minority leader said both agencies can function without the confidential funds anyway.

“‘Yung OVP nga ngayon, ang budget is around P700 million for 2022. Nag-collapse ba ang Office of the Vice President at P700 million? Hindi naman eh. So P2.3 [billion] nga siya next year, tanggalin mo ‘yung P500 [million,] P1.8 billion pa rin ‘yung naiwan,” Pimentel said.

(The OVP was given around P700 million for 2022. Did the Office of the Vice President collapse at P700 million? Clearly not. So if we remove P500 million from the P2.3 billion allotted next year, you’ll be left with P1.8 billion.)

“It should be able to survive.”

vuukle comment






  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with