MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education’s (DepEd) P150-million confidential fund will only be used in activities that are permitted under government rules, its secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte guaranteed on Thursday.
Duterte, during the Senate committee on finance’s hearing, was quizzed by Senator Risa Hontiveros on the use of the confidential fund.
The education chief cited the Joint Circular 2015-01 of five government agencies including the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of National Defense.
“The use for these confidential funds is expenses pertaining or related to surveillance activities and civilian government agencies that are intended to support the mandate or operations of the agency,” Duterte read a part of the circular.
“We’d like to put it on record that we reassure the Congress and the public that these funds will be used in relation to what is allowed in the joint circular of those agencies mentioned earlier 2015-01,” she said.
The Vice President shared the challenges that the DepEd is facing such as drug involvement of personnel and students, abuses, violent extremism and terrorism, insurgency, and scam.
Despite Duterte’s justification, Hontiveros believes that the confidential fund is more appropriate for security, defense, and protection entities.
“’Yung subject activities in the joint circular parang mas bagay po, honestly, mas bagay pang confidential and intelligence funds for our existing national security, national defense, law enforcement, even women and children protection governmental bodies and programs,” the minority bloc member pressed.
(With the subject activities in the joint circular, the confidential and intelligence funds are more appropriate for our existing national security, national defense, law enforcement, even women and children protection governmental bodies and programs.)
The opposition leader further asked Duterte if she is open to realigning the confidential fund for the indigenous people education program which suffered a huge cut on its 2023 allocation.
Duterte answered: “With regard to budget cuts, within the Department of Education, we can work out realignments in our budget so we can fund programs, activities, and projects that need funding.”
“With regard to the confidential funds, this is a proposal that we submitted to Congress. As I said earlier with regard to the confidential fund of the Office of the Vice President, we submit to the wisdom of Congress with regard to the amount and the proprietary matter on, decision on confidential funds,” she continued.