Re-channel confidential, intelligence funds to calamity response —Pimentel
MANILA, Philippines — The confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) of some government departments and agencies must be reduced and and re-channeled to calamity response initiatives, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said on Thursday, in the wake of the devastation left by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (international name: Nalgae).
In a statement released Thursday, Pimentel supported increasing the government’s proposed budget for calamity response for next year.
“We must re-channel non-essential PAPs (projects, activities, and programs) both in the 2022 General Appropriations Act and the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 in order to fund critical programs such as the calamity fund to enable a speedy and efficient response to disasters and calamities.
“Let us cut confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) and re-channel this much-needed allocation to strengthen our disaster response capabilities,” he appealed.
The 2023 proposed budget includes P9.29 billion CIFs — P4.5 billion for the Office of the President; P806 million for the Philippine National Police; P500 million for the Office of the Vice President; and P500 million for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
“These funds can be used instead to beef up the weather forecasting capabilities of [the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration], build houses damaged by typhoons and earthquake, and repair damaged roads and bridges,” Pimentel said.
“Could they use their intelligence funds to monitor typhoons and floods and give us the much-needed early warnings?” he added.
Under the proposed P5.268-trillion 2023 budget, the calamity fund is P31 billion, 55 percent more than the current allocation of P20 billion.
“Given these 20 tropical cyclones a year and the fact that the Philippines is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is imperative to pump more funds into disaster and calamity response and recovery programs,” Pimentel said.
Paeng left at least 150 persons dead, 128 injured and 36 others missing.
The storm also displaced some 1.1 million families of 3.9 million individuals.
Damage to agriculture, so far, was at P2.4 billion while damage to infrastructure was pegged at P2.8 billion.
Last month, a strong earthquake jolted parts of Northern Luzon.
Responding to appeals for help, the Inquirer is extending its relief efforts to the families affected by Typhoon Paeng. Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No.: 007960018860 and through Maya