Lagman wants Congress to be frugal in crafting 2023 budget
MANILA, Philippines — Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman has reminded his colleagues in the 19th Congress to be frugal in crafting the proposed 2023 national budget, saying that they must purge excessive confidential and intelligence funds (CIF).
In a statement on Monday, Lagman reaffirmed his position on the proposed 2023 budget, stating once more that the P9.29 billion CIF divided across agencies, including the Office of the President’s (OP) P4.5 billion allocation, is far larger than some agencies’ whole budget.
“The 2023 national budget must be purged of unnecessary and excessive confidential and intelligence funds amounting to P9.29 billion, which are embedded in various offices, agencies, and departments,” he said.
“This total amount is much bigger than the appropriations of many government offices and departments, including the constitutional commissions and offices.
The House of Representatives last week passed House Bill No. 4488, which contains the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), on the third reading. However, a small committee was crafted to amend certain portions of the GAB, particularly those involving individual amendments.
There is still a chance to amend portions of the proposed 2023 budget, as it would still need to go through the Senate and then a bicameral conference committee where differences in the House and Senate versions would be threshed out.
Lagman also called out again the huge CIF for the Office of the Vice President (OVP), noting that it is not a surveillance agency. During the plenary debates at the House, Lagman scrutinized the CIF of OVP, leading Vice President Sara Duterte to defer the fate of the said funds to Congress.
“No stretch of the imagination or flexibility of logic can justify the P500 million in the Office of the Vice President and another P150 million in the Department of Education [DepEd], both under Vice President Sara Duterte,” he said.
“The OVP is not a surveillance agency and has no jurisdiction over matters of national security,” he added.
He also stressed that since CIFs cannot be scrutinized thoroughly by the Commission on Audit, unlike regular funds, then all the more should Congress exercise judiciousness.
“Since the utilization of confidential and intelligence funds are shrouded in mystery, and the supposed audit by the Commission on Audit (COA) could not be disclosed to the Congress and the public, these funds breed corruption, and the more enormous the funds are, the greater the magnitude is for the possibility of graft,” he claimed.
“I reiterate my call to the Congress to exercise judiciousness and frugality in the allocation of confidential and intelligence funds,” he added.
Lagman, during the passing of the GAB last Wednesday voted in favor of the proposed budget, along with other key Minority lawmakers in Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. and Minority Floor Leader and 4Ps Rep. Marcelino Libanan.
However, both Lagman and Bordado aired their reservations about the budget, particularly about the CIF and the budget cuts suffered by several educational institutions. With reports from Alyssa Joy Quevedo, INQUIRER.net trainee
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