Minority calls out huge confidential funds in 2023 budget | Inquirer News

Minority calls out huge confidential funds in 2023 budget

/ 09:00 PM September 28, 2022
Minority calls out huge confidential funds in 2023 budget

Official seal of the House of Representatives

MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers from the House of Representatives’ Minority bloc have called out the huge confidential funds in different offices in the proposed 2023 budget, saying that these could have been used for building classrooms and cash assistance.

During the plenary debates for the 2023 National Expenditures Program on Wednesday, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman made a presentation showing that the government, for 2023, has asked P9.2 billion for its confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) — including the P4.5 billion allocation to the Office of the President (OP).

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The CIF of the OP alone, Lagman said in his interpellation of the office’s budget, is larger than the allocations for other offices like the Civil Service Commission (P1.940 billion), the Commission on Human Rights (P833.7 million), Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (P1.451 billion), and the Department of Tourism (P3.518 billion).

“As a final statement Mr. Speaker, I reiterate my appeal for the House of Representatives to be very judicious and frugal in the allocation of confidential and intelligence funds,” Lagman said.

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“Because there are important agencies and programs which need adequate allocations like the following: a. Education for Special Children which has a zero budget; b. Sitio Electrification which has zero budget; Libreng Pasahe program which has a zero budget; Pantawid Pasada program has a zero budget; Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program has also a zero budget; Construction of the Freedom Memorial Museum to honor the sacrifices and heroism of martial law victims which has zero budget,” he added.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel also pointed out that over half of the OP’s proposed P8.969 billion budget is intended for CIF — saying that it could have been used to provide a salary increase for 460,000 teachers, or construction of 6,800 classrooms, or 31,200 sets of school seats, or for the hiring of 9,300 nurses.

It could have been also used to give 440,000 students a P10,000 student aid, Manuel said.

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. France Castro also condemned the huge CIF for OP and the Office of the Vice President during her turno en contra, saying that it seems the President and the Vice President are intent on raking in funds under the guise of national security.

“Higit sa lahat, magsusubi ang Presidente mismo, Bise Presidente, at ilang opisyal—sa tabing ng national security kuno—ng malalaking confidential and intelligence funds na nasa kanilang kontrol at hindi lubusang masisilip ng mga auditor ng COA (Commission on Audit) at publiko,” she said.

(Most of all, our President and Vice President, along with other officials would set aside — in the guise of national security — huge confidential and intelligence funds which are within their control and would not be totally viewable by COA and the public.)

The House is expected to approve the proposed 2023 budget on Wednesday, by going through the second and third readings on the same day. This is made possible by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s certification of the General Appropriations Bill as urgent.

Without Marcos’ certification, the House would have to wait for three more days before approving the measure on third and final reading.

READ: President certifies as urgent bill for proposed 2023 national budget 

JMS
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TAGS: 2023 budget, Confidential Funds, House of Representatives
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