Bayan Muna questions Duterte’s ‘defensive’ mood when asked about his intel fund
MANILA, Philippines — A Bayan Muna party-list lawmaker has questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s seemingly defensive attitude whenever asked about diverting his P4.5-billion intelligence and confidential funds to the national government’s COVID-19 response and social amelioration program.
Rep. Ferdinand Gaite also reiterated Tuesday his colleague’s call on Duterte to just let go of his intelligence funds – or “presidential pork.”
“The President seems to be very defensive with regards to Bayan Muna’s call to utilize the President’s Confidential and Intelligence Funds (CIFs), his Pork Barrel,” Gaite said in a statement.
“But we would continue to insist, put the P4.5-billion confidential and intel funds to better use. Don’t be too possessive, let it go,” he added.
Gaite’s statement came after the President slammed another Bayan Muna lawmaker, Rep. Carlos Zarate, during his late Monday night press briefing for insisting on the issue with Duterte even claiming that the fund has not been transferred to his office yet.
Duterte made the remark while lamenting that he cannot implement certain measures because of the democracy in the Philippines, and due to criticisms from the human rights sector.
“Dito hindi ko magawa ‘yan kasi demokrasya, papasok ang human rights, nandiyan sila Diokno, mas marunong sa — lahat na, mga human rights, sa mga left. Kagaya nito ni Zarate, daldal ng daldal ng intelligence fund na wala hangin,” the Presdient said.
Zarate and other opposition figures like Senator Leila de Lima have asked Duterte to allocate his intelligence and confidential funds in the 2020 national budget to the COVID-19 response after the Chief Executive said the national government’s budget to deal with the pandemic is drying up.
Duterte in a briefing last April 8 hinted that the government may sell its assets like the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) to support the government’s COVID-19 efforts.
Gaite asked why the government appeared to be more willing about making loans and exploring the sale of assets when Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act of 2020 has already given Duterte powers to realign and reprogram items in the 2020 national budget.
“The Bayanihan Act already gave the President the authority to utilize these funds, why is he so adamant about using it for this emergency? Pres. Duterte is so eager to make multi-million dollar loans and sell our public assets, but he refuses to touch the funds that can be immediately used upon his approval,” Gaite pointed out.
“Gigil na gigil siya ibenta ang mga pampublikong pag-aari para magkaroon ng pondo, pero iyang pera na nasa bulsa niya na at ilalabas niya lang, ayaw niya galawin. Saan ba niya inilalaan yan?” he asked.
As of Tuesday, the entire Luzon is still under an enhanced community quarantine due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The Department of Health said that there are now 5,223 infected patients — 335 of which have already died while at least 295 have recovered.
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