‘Bakit parang nauso na?’ Ejercito questions gov’t confidential fund requests
MANILA, Philippines— Expect lawmakers to scrutinize the 2024 national budget, especially now that more agencies are hankering for confidential funds.
“Bakit parang nauso na? Bakit lahat biglang humihingi na ng intelligence fund?” Senate Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito asked on Friday.
(Why does it seem to be becoming a trend? Why is everyone suddenly asking for intelligence funds?)
“So we will ask them during the budget season, for what purpose?” Ejercito added in an interview with Senate reporters.
Tucked in the 2024 national budget proposal is the P10.14 billion confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) for select government agencies, including the P4.56 billion for the Office of the President.
Ejercito said they would probably hold an executive session to determine how the agencies would use the proposed CIF next year.
With the confidential funds for the Department of Education (DepEd), the senator assumed it would address security issues facing educators and learners, such as insurgency and terrorism.
Ejercito wants to know, however, if there is still a need for a huge confidential budget for DepEd when the government itself is saying that the insurgency in the country has already weakened.
“’Yun ang purpose ng DepEd to counter itong recruitment on schools and our youth,” he said. “We will also ask if it’s still necessary to have that big intelligence fund and for what purpose.”
Ejercito said the Senate would also scrutinize the proposed secret funding for the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“Tatanungin din natin sila kung para saan? Is it to counter smuggling, profiteering? Eh ang problema po sa kanila, alam naman nila sino po ang nagho-hoard dyan. Alam naman nila kung sino nag smuggle so para saan pa yung intelligence fund?”’ he asked.
(We will also ask them how they would use it. Is it to counter smuggling or profiteering? The problem with them is that they already know who the hoarders and smugglers are, so what is the intelligence fund for?)
“Ang problema, marami dun sa mga nasa baba, nagbubulag-bulagan. So sa akin, dapat yung DA especially, mahiya na sila dahil si President mismo ang concurrent DA secretary.”
(The problem is that many of those in lower positions are turning a blind eye to the irregularities. So for me, the DA should be ashamed because the President himself is the concurrent DA secretary.)
“So we’ll see if we will give it or not kasi ipakita muna nila na mayroong resulta and for what purpose yung intelligence fund e alam naman nila pero ang poblema nagbubulag-bulagan,” he added.
(So we’ll see if we will give it or not because they need to show results first and the purpose of the intelligence fund. They already know who the culprits are, but the problem is, they are turning a blind eye)
However, Ejercito believes confidential funds could be justified for some agencies like the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
If the confidential fund for DICT would be used to crack down on cybercrimes, then the request is “justifiable,” the senator said.
Ejercito mentioned his own son lost all his savings to scammers just when the government was fighting cybercrimes by mandating the registration of all SIM (subscriber identity module) cards.