Senate in talks to move P4-B intel funds to SUCs

Senate in talks to move P4-B intel funds to SUCs

/ 05:34 AM October 07, 2023

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian—Senate PRIB

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian —Senate PRIB

BACOLOD CITY—Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he would work to divert some of the intelligence funds allocated in the 2024 budget for several national government offices to cover the P4.1-billion shortfall in the free higher education program of state universities and colleges (SUCs) next year.

Gatchalian, who was the speaker at the Education Summit in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, on Thursday, said the Senate had been discussing the realignment of some of the intelligence funds in favor of the SUCs.


During the hearing on the proposed 2024 budget of the Commission on Higher Education and SUCs, Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (Pasuc) president Tirso Ronquillo reported that the projected Program of Receipts and Expenditures for 2024 was P25.8 billion, Gatchalian said.


However, the National Expenditure Program only allocated P21.6 billion for free higher education in SUCs. The Program of Receipts and Expenditures was based on tuition and other school fees multiplied by the enrollment rate.

READ: 10 government agencies may lose secret funds

“I will really work hard to find that P4.1 billion to fill in the gap next year,” said Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, in an interview.

When the House of Representatives approved the 2024 national budget on Sept. 27, it kept the P100.882-billion appropriation for SUCs proposed by the administration intact. The amount was P6.155 billion, or 5.75 percent, lower than this year’s P107.037-billion allocation.

The House also approved P4.864 billion in confidential funds and P5.277 billion in intelligence funds.

Budget cuts for UP, etc.

The Makabayan bloc in the House noted that 10 SUCs received a P253.496-million funding slash for personnel services, while P2.37 billion had been cut from the budgets for maintenance and other operating expenses of 39 SUCs. It said P19.75 billion in capital outlays was cut from 36 SUCs.


The University of the Philippines (UP) System got the biggest overall budget cut, leaving it with a P21.29-billion budget for 2024, a 12.255-percent drop from its 2023 budget of P24.263 billion.

In terms of proportion, Mindanao State University suffered the biggest cut—from P6.369 billion, or 37.03 percent, this year to P4.010 billion for 2024, Makabayan said in a resolution.

In a press statement, Gatchalian said he would also file a bill to update Republic Act No. 4670, or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.

Allowance, checkups

Among the new provisions that he will introduce is the grant of a special hardship allowance to mobile teachers, including Alternative Learning System (ALS) teachers.

Gatchalian said he would also seek to protect teachers from out-of-pocket expenses and nonteaching tasks.

There would be provisions for teachers’ basic rights and longevity pay, he said.

Gatchalian emphasized the need to ensure full implementation of the law aimed at improving the living and working conditions of public school teachers.

He pointed out that it has been 57 years since the law was passed, yet some of its provisions had not been fully implemented.One such provision is section 22, which entitles public school teachers to a free annual physical examination, he said.

While the Department of Education (DepEd) has provided for some monetary medical assistance since 2019, Gatchalian said there was no program for the annual checkup of teachers as mandated by the Magna Carta.

Retirement pay

Another concern is Section 26 of the law which states that a retiring teacher should be promoted one rank higher, and the salary of that rank should be the basis for calculating retirement benefits.

Gatchalian said the Government Service Insurance System currently computes the average monthly compensation that the employee received during the last 36 months of service prior to retirement as the basis for the retirement pay.

While Section 31 of the Magna Carta requires the education secretary to submit the annual budgetary requirements to implement the Magna Carta, the senator said the agency had only submitted an omnibus budget request to Congress for its annual needs.

Focus on Sara

Confidential and intelligence funds have come under closer scrutiny by a growing number of lawmakers who have questioned their use by agencies that do not have national defense and security mandates.

Several of them have zeroed in on Vice President Sara Duterte’s P650-million confidential fund this year, which she asked for again for 2024—P500 million for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and P150 million for DepEd, which she heads.

In a speech on Wednesday, Duterte said those who opposed confidential funds were against peace and called them “enemies of the people,” a statement that drew swift rebuke from her critics who said asking for an accounting of the people’s money should not be interpreted as a security threat.

Bato to her defense

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa agreed with Duterte, his ally, and defended her confidential fund and labeled those against it as “enemies of peace.”

Dela Rosa served as national police chief under her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, and was the spearhead of his bloody antidrug campaign. Both he and the former President face charges of committing crimes against humanity in the drug war.

ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said Dela Rosa’s actions were “understandable” and that he was just “inventing stories” to justify the retention of confidential funds in the P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024.

“They spent billions of taxpayers’ money trying to Red-tag us in the Makabayan bloc and other critics of the Duterte administration then, and link us with the communist insurgency. Until now, they found nothing because it is not true,” said the House deputy minority leader.

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Castro said Dela Rosa and the Vice President both failed to explain how the P125-million confidential funds of the OVP were spent in 2022.

TAGS: Education, intelligence, Sherwin Gatchalian

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