Senate minority bloc pushes for realignment of DepEd’s P150-million intel fund
MANILA, Philippines — Realign the Department of Education’s (DepEd) P150-million confidential fund, the Senate minority bloc pushed.
Minority bloc members, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Risa Hontiveros, are seeing better programs where the DepEd’s confidential fund could be used.
Pimentel called on Congress on Friday as he questioned the hefty confidential funding for an agency responsible for education promotion, not security concerns.
He pointed out that it was the first time that DepEd, headed by Vice President Sara Duterte, asked for such funds.
“Hindi lang namin kukwenstyunin. Mag-attempt kaming i-amend. Siguro ilipat natin sa program or activity na directly related to education,” he said in an interview at the Senate.
(We will not only question it. We will attempt to amend it. Maybe we will try to realign it to a program or activity directly related to education.)
The minority leader, however, is keen on retaining the P150-million budget as long as it would be utilized to support the basic education program, noting that the learning system has deteriorated in the past years.
Hontiveros, meanwhile, asked Duterte, during the Senate finance subcommittee hearing on Thursday, if she is open to realigning the P150-million confidential fund to indigenous peoples’ education program.
While Duterte assured that the confidential fund will be used within government rules, she defers to the decision of the Congress.
Aside from realignment, another option that the minority bloc is considering is transferring the fund to other agencies that need more allocation.
OVP confidential, intelligence funds
Likewise, Pimentel is mulling removing the P500-million confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) under the Office of the Vice President (OVP).
“Generally speaking, we discourage the allocation for CIFs, primarily because these are lump-sum funds and, secondly, the auditing is very minimal,” he said.
“Sa Medium-Term Fiscal Framework ng Marcos administration, sinabi nila ang goal nila ay ‘growth-inducing expenditures.’ Is that a growth-inducing expenditure? Let’s be consistent with our public posturing,” Pimentel urged.
(In the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework of the Marcos administration, they said their goal is “growth inducing expenditures.” Is that a growth-inducing expenditure? Let’s be consistent with our public posturing.)
The P500-million CIF of the OVP could be used to roll out social and health programs such as the ramping up of the Office of the Ombudsman’s anti-corruption campaign, the senator said.
For Pimentel, CIFs are “prone to abuse and discretion.”
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