Senate constitutes oversight body on intel funds

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Senate constitutes oversight body on intel funds
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri sponsored Senate Resolution 302, creating a select oversight committee on intelligence and confidential funds.
The STAR / Paolo Romero, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate yesterday constituted a special oversight committee for confidential and intelligence funds as a second-level defense in the name of transparency on the P9.3-billion CIFs reportedly included in the P5.268-trillion proposed national budget for 2023.

In a privilege speech, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri sponsored Senate Resolution 302, creating a select oversight committee on intelligence and confidential funds.

“We will keep an eye on this fund. This is the people’s money, so, as the people’s Senate, we will make sure that the people will also benefit from it,” Zubiri said.

“Since the 10th Congress, it has been the tradition of the Senate to constitute a select oversight committee for these funds and we must, in the 19th Congress, continue this tradition,” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III welcomed the move, although to “discourage the allocation of lump sums” is better.

“I welcome the development at the Senate, but as stated by our Senate President, we have done this before, so let’s continue the good practice.

But then, there’s even a better practice, which is to discourage the allocation of lump sums, especially in the form of confidential and intelligence funds in the national budget,” Pimentel said.

“So if we are able to continue this select committee, it allowed you restriction on those agencies and personalities or government officials, which have command over confidential intelligence funds after we have tried our best to trim down the grant of CIF and also to discourage the grant of CIF,” he added.

In the General Appropriations Bill for 2023, there is an allocation of over P9.28 billion for confidential and intelligence funds.

Zubiri emphasized the importance of these funds in ensuring the safety and security of the people.

“Crime looks and moves differently than we are used to. Sometimes it creeps into vulnerable spaces, like schools, where illegal drugs or child pornography can find root. So in these times, we need to be more trusting of our government agencies. We have to have faith that they will use every inch of diligence and discretion in undertaking surveillance and intelligence gathering in the discharge of their mandates,” he said.

While he recognized the necessity of CIFs, the Senate President also stressed the importance of remaining vigilant over their utilization.

“These are not subject to the usual or regular auditing rules and procedures of the Commission on Audit, compared with other expense items in the budget. So it falls on us, on this proudly democratic and independent Senate, to reactivate the select oversight committee, where we can subject these confidential and intelligence funds to checks and balances,” he said.

Zubiri will chair the select oversight committee and will be joined by Pimentel, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senators Sonny Angara and Ronald dela Rosa.

Budget documents showed that of the P9.3-billion CIF, the Office of the President would get the biggest share, amounting to P4.5 billion — P2.25 billion for intelligence and P2.25 billion for confidential funds.

The CIF that President Marcos is set to get is larger than the combined amounts allocated for the intelligence fund of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (P1.74 billion), Philippine National Police (P800 million) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (P500 million).

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