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EDITORIAL - Rationalizing utilization

() - September 9, 2010 - 12:00am

 Intelligence gathering is commonly associated with law enforcement and national security operations. So there are people who are surprised to learn that even government-owned and controlled corporations, whose executives enjoy fat salaries and perks, also have intelligence funds, which are not covered by regular auditing rules. Even the Office of the President has a large intelligence fund, which President Aquino has decided to retain.

In the interest of public safety and national security, it is prudent to give some leeway for opaqueness in the utilization of funds for intelligence gathering. But this kind of leeway can be exploited by unscrupulous officials to get away with misusing public funds for personal purposes.

Agencies involved in law enforcement and national security operations can justify their use of intelligence funds by producing results: the neutralization of security threats and crime groups, and an overall feeling of safety among the populace. But with so many other agencies now having intelligence funds, congressional scrutiny of the first budget proposal of the new administration should lead to a rationalization of the allocation and use of these funds.

Demanding full transparency in the use of intelligence funds by security agencies could jeopardize the safety of informants and their handlers, and ultimately public safety. But security officers who handle the disbursement of intelligence funds can be subjected to periodic lifestyle checks to discourage fund misuse. Most other agencies with no security or law enforcement functions will have to give up their intelligence funds and submit all their expenditures to full auditing.

Secrecy in the utilization of intelligence funds can be justified if public disclosure of the nature of the expenditures can put lives in danger. This reason cannot be invoked by several of the offices currently enjoying access to intelligence funds. The government cannot do away with the use of intelligence funds, but allocations have become bloated and utilization needs to be rationalized. Any public fund utilization that is exempt from accountability is prone to abuse.

AGENCIES ENFORCEMENT EVEN THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT FUNDS INTELLIGENCE PRESIDENT AQUINO PUBLIC SAFETY SECURITY USE UTILIZATION
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