Zubiri, Angara cite OP for comprehensive CIF report

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Zubiri, Angara cite OP for comprehensive CIF report
Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri hails the accomplishments of past and present senators during the traditional Senate Reunion Dinner, Wednesday, November 8, 2023. Zubiri believed that the Senate had lived up to people’s expectation as the country’s bastion of democracy by passing important measures that would benefit the Filipinos. Zubiri also put a spotlight on the past and present Senate secretaries and recognized their vital work for the Senate and for the country. “We heed your words seriously, and we take them into account as we strive to uphold the principles of unwavering independence, democratic service, and unfailing excellence that the Senate is founded on,” Zubiri said.
Joseph Vidal / Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate finance committee chair Sonny Angara both defended the Office of the President (OP)’s P10.7-billion budget next year following the OP’s comprehensive report on its use of confidential and intelligence funds.

“I just want to put on record that the CIF or the confidential intelligence fund report of the Office of the President is one of the most detailed and comprehensive reports that I have seen. It is the most detailed among all the other agencies,” Zubiri said during the Senate plenary deliberations.

The OP had submitted two books detailing each item that used the secret funds, Zubiri said, noting that the report even included details of the disbursement for rewards to tipsters.

Angara, who sponsored the OP’s budget, agreed: “I was there (when the OP budget report was presented). I confirm that there was great specificity of the report.”

For his part, Senate minority leader Koko Pimentel said while he has no problem with the OP’s request for P2.25 billion in confidential funds as long as it is spent on surveillance in support of its programs and activities, he urged the OP to follow in the footsteps of other civilian agencies in cutting down on the confidential funds.

But he questioned the OP’s request for P2.31-billion intelligence funds when it is not a uniformed or military agency, adding that this is a ground to question the proposed 2024 budget before the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional in the unauthorized grant of intelligence funds.

The OP’s request for confidential and intelligence funds amount to P4.56 billion, or almost half of its total P10.7 billion budget next year.

“I already made an appeal for the President to please give up his intelligence funds. Even the President is subject to the rules, which state that the office is not entitled to intelligence funds,” Pimentel said at a virtual press briefing on Friday.

“Anyway, he has confidential funds, which the office has the right to even as a civilian agency because of expenses that are confidential in nature. But his request for P2.25-billion confidential funds is too much. It should be reduced,” he added.

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