^

Opinion

The philosophy and epistemology of intelligence funds

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Intelligence is the diplomatic term for espionage. The proposed budget of P500 million intelligence fund of the Office of the Vice President, on top of the P4.5 billion for the Office of the President, must be explained with utmost candor and transparency, to the Filipino people, especially to taxpayers overburdened with too much taxation. The science of philosophy should examine the rationale for intelligence funds and the study of epistemology should explain its scope, validity, and methods. Why should national leaders need too much money to spy on their own people?

But the House, under the control of Speaker Martin Romualdez, first cousin of the president, terminated the interpellations in the committee level, within the shortest time, supposedly to show courtesy to the chief executive. That means courtesy to the president takes precedence over national interests. The principle of checks and balances has been waived by an assembly composed of representatives elected to protect the interest of the people. This House is dominated by family dynasties aligned with the super majority, and the voices of such quixotic oppositionists like Edcel Lagman of the 1st District of Albay, and whatever remains of the Makabayan Bloc, are muted by the thunderous obedience of trapos who opted to neglect their accountability to the people.

In 2015, the Commission on Audit, constitutionally-instituted guardian of public funds, issued Circular no 2015-01 prescribing the guidelines in the use of confidential and intelligence funds. According to that circular, confidential funds can only be used for the following: Purchase of information (that means "buying" or bribing whistleblowers) necessary for the formulation and implementation of programs relevant to the national security and peace and order. Also, for rental of vehicles related to confidential activities, as well as rentals and incidental expenses related to the maintenance of safehouses. They can be used also for purchase or rental of supplies that cannot be done through regular procedures without compromising information-gathering activity concerned. In other words, these funds can be used to spy on political rivals.

These funds can also be used as payment of rewards to informers, and activities to uncover illegal activities that pose a clear and present danger to agency, personnel, and property done in coordination with the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The intelligence funds can be used for intelligence and counterintelligence activities that have direct impact on national security. Also for special projects and operations, as approved by the head of agency, involving covert and semi-covert psychological, internal security operation and peace and order activities. These are also for campaigns against criminals involving. The disbursement of these funds must be covered by receipts or certifications. Well, these can easily be manufactured. The total budget for the Office of the President is P9.03 billion and out of that the confidential and intelligence funds are P4.5 billion.

According to the House majority leader, Mannix Dalipe of Zamboanga City, in the spirit of the Chamber's "tradition of parliamentary courtesy to a co-equal branch in government", the budget presented by the erstwhile executive secretary was allowed to breeze through the committee deliberations. That kind of blind courtesy drew the stinging criticism from the House Deputy minority leader France Castro of the ACT party list, who said that it was a blind approval of Malacañang’s budget. Well, "blind approval" is too mild a figure of speech. To me, that was a blatant betrayal of public trust. I was waiting for any of the representatives from Cebu to stand up and say their piece. But nothing was heard from any of them. What I heard was a thunderous silence. I shall wait for the plenary session, if any of the seven from the province, the two from Cebu City and the two from Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue, respectively, would dare to raise a question.

I miss the times of then Batasan Pambansa member Hilario Davide Jr., Antonio Cuenco, Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco, Don Sergio Osmeña Sr., and Don Filemon and Vicente Sotto. Our current representatives are meek lambs who do not even update the constituencies of the raging issues in Congress. But they will still be elected and reelected forever, because the people also do not care about these matters of national interests. They are too busy earning a living and trying to survive amidst the rising inflation and the nose-diving value of the Philippine peso. Nobody cares about philosophy and epistemology. What matters most to many is where the next meal will come from. The politicians want to keep it that way.

FUNDS

Philstar
  • Latest
Latest
Latest
abtest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

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!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with