P4.5-B intelligence fund of the President questioned
MANILA, Philippines — Is the Office of the President (OP) an intelligence-gathering agency?
The question appeared to stump the sponsor of the OP’s P8.2-billion budget proposal for 2020 during plenary debates at the House of Representatives as he was quizzed on Monday about the President’s combined allocation of P4.5 billion for intelligence and confidential funds.
Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chair of the House appropriations panel, did not give a yes or no answer to Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite’s query, as the former tried to explain the “unprecedented” amount of secret funds sought by the President’s office.
“The President is the commander in chief of the Armed Forces. That includes the Navy, Army, Air Force. He also has direct control of the Philippine National Police,” Ungab said.
But Gaite, a member of the opposition Makabayan bloc, was not satisfied with Ungab’s answer.
Gaite also attempted to elicit an admission from Ungab that the OP’s secret fund allocation was unusually high, considering that the 2020 proposal was almost double the P1.25 billion earmarked for each of the two items in 2018 and 2019.
He noted that under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, the OP’s confidential and intelligence funds were still sizable at P250 million each, but nowhere close to the President’s.
The President’s intelligence fund is also bigger than even the Department of National Defense’s P1.7 billion allocation and the PNP’s P806 million.
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