Rep. Castro wants OVP confidential, intel funds allocated to PH Coast Guard
MANILA, Philippines — ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro has asked for the realignment of the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) confidential and intelligence funds in the proposed 2024 budget to the country’s coast guard after a recent incident in the West Philippines Sea (WPS).
Castro on Tuesday said that the P500 million confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) requested by the OVP should instead be used to support the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) operations.
According to the Makabayan lawmaker, if the OVP is concerned about national security, it should hand over parts of its budget to the PCG, which routinely faces dangers from China’s aggressive actions.
“Ang PCG ang palaging humaharap sa pambubully ng China, tapos ang intel funds nila ay P10 million lang mula 2009. Samantalang ang OVP na wala namang kinalaman sa intelligence gathering ay napakalaki ng intel funds,” Castro said.
(PCG has continuously faced China’s bullying, but their intel funds are only at P10 million since 2009. Meanwhile, the OVP has nothing to do with intelligence gathering but still gets a considerable share.)
“If the OVP is so concerned with national security, then it should have no objections and would, in fact, support the transfer of its P500M to the PCG,” she added.
Castro’s call to the OVP came after the Chinese Coast Guard water cannoned PCG vessels escorting a resupply mission to troops stationed at the Ayungin Shoal — which sits in a portion of the WPS near Palawan and within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
She also claimed that the P650 million CIF of the OVP and the Department of Education — both headed by Vice President Sara Duterte — is merely a pork barrel for Duterte.
Both, Castro said, should be allocated to the PCG.
“Sa totoo lang ang confidential and intel funds sa Deped at OVP na aabot sa P650M ay pork barrel lang ng bise presidente, it is high time na i-realign ito sa PCG para magamit laban sa mga dayuhang nanghihimasok sa ating teritoryo,” the lawmaker said.
(In all honesty, the CIF of DepEd and OVP amounting to P650 million is just pork barrel for the Vice President. That’s why it is high time we realign this to the PCG to use it for foreigners intruding into our territory.)
Reporters have asked the OVP’s side, but it has not replied since posting time. However, Duterte on Monday defended the CIF allocation to DepEd, saying that education is tied to security.
After the Department of Budget and Management transmitted the 2024 National Expenditures Program to the House of Representatives, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said it contains P4.3 billion in confidential funds, and P4.9 billion in intelligence funds.
Pangandaman said OVP gets a P500 million CIF. This comprises one-fifth of the OVP’s entire P2.374 billion proposed budget for 2024.
Last Sunday, PCG condemned their Chinese counterparts for its water cannon attack. The team was supposed to resupply troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre, a landing ship intentionally ran aground on Ayungin Shoal.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines confirmed that the resupply mission was unsuccessful.