Senators ‘offering’ more intel funds for ‘external defense’
MANILA, Philippines — In the face of continued threats in the West Philippines Sea, senators are gearing up to increase the budgets of the country’s defense and intelligence offices next year.
In a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, the Senate finance subcommittee gave its nod to the proposed P1.432 billion budget of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) and the P629.27 million funding of the National Security Council (NSC) next year.
Though the two agencies were “contented” with their budget, senators still want more for them, Senate Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito said on Thursday.
“Senators are the ones proposing that it be augmented because of the situation kasi nga magshi-shift na tayo sa external defense…” Ejercito at the regular Kapihan sa Senado forum.
(Senators are the ones proposing that it be augmented because of the situation because we are about to shift to external defense…)
“Kelangan natin ng drones and aircraft with sophisticated cameras. Yan na ang mga kailangan natin kasi kelangan nating bantayan kasi baka paggising natin ang dami ng isla.”
“It’s the senators who are already offering to augment the budget of Nica and other intel agencies,” the senator said.
Ejercito said the Senate will introduce amendments on the floor to augment the two agencies’ budgets.
Senators have yet to decide though how much they plan to increase the budgets of Nica and NSC.
“No specific amount yet,” Ejercito said in a text message. “We will wait for the wishlist of Nica as requested by SP (Senate President Juan Miguel) Zubiri.”
Aside from Nica and NSC, the senator also sees the need to raise the intelligence funds of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the country’s armed forces to prepare for “external defense.”
Ejercito believes confidential, and intelligence funds (CIF) should be concentrated to agencies like DND, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Nica, and the Philippine National Police.
Ejercito also observed that many civilian offices are now requesting the CIF when it should be confined to agencies in charge of national defense and security.
“Parang hawa-hawa lang,” he said.