House gives zero confidential funds to OVP, DepEd, DICT, DFA, DA
MANILA, Philippines — A House of Representatives panel has decided to give zero confidential funds to civilian agencies of the government such as the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and Department of Education (DepEd).
Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo announced in a press briefing Tuesday that aside from the OVP and DepEd, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and Department of Agriculture (DA) were also given zero secret funds.
The decision to strip OVP, DepEd, DICT, DFA, and DA of secret funds was made by a small committee of the House which was tasked to resolve individual amendments to the proposed 2024 national budget, she added.
Vice President Sara Duterte helms in a concurrent capacity the OVP and DepEd – which both never requested for confidential funds in the past national budgets, while President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the chief of the DA also in a concurrent capacity.
The senior vice chairperson of the House committee on appropriations explained that all the confidential funds proposed by OVP, DepEd, DICT, DFA, and DA will be given to agencies at the forefront of protecting the West Philippine Sea and maintaining peace and order in the country.
“Meanwhile, our panel – as authorized by the House Plenary – reached a unanimous decision to remove or realign the controversial confidential funds. As such, the [OVP] and the [DepEd], [DICT], [DA] and [DFA] are getting zero confidential funds under the 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB),” Quimbo said.
“Instead, the bulk of the funding will be channeled to agencies in charge of ensuring national security, especially in the West Philippine Sea,” she also said.
Quimbo further said that P194 billion worth of institutional amendments were made to the proposed P5.768 trillion national budget for next year and that of the total requested budget, P1.23 billion confidential funds were realigned.
The lawmaker enumerated that, among others, P300 million was added to the allocation of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA); P100 million to the National Security Council (NSC); P200 million to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for its intelligence activities and ammunition; and P381.8 million to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for airport development and expansion of Pag-asa Island Airport.
Quimbo clarified that P3 billion was set aside for the development and expansion of the Pag-asa Island Airport but the P381 million “was the only portion taken from confidential funds.”
As the designated spokesperson of the special small committee, Quimbo said the panel believes the House is on the right side of history with this decision stressing that next year’s budget should address more pressing concerns of the Filipino people such as rising inflation and threats to sovereignty, as well as answer the public’s call for accountability.
“So our panel introduced a total of P194 billion in institutional amendments; the main goal was to rationalize the allocation of resources to fight inflation and invest in human capital and our country’s future,” she explained.
“We believe that the House of Representatives is on the right side of history. We are responding to the call of the times. And the volatile situation in the West Philippine Sea calls for immediate and decisive action to protect our national sovereignty,” she added.
The small committee of the House included Quimbo; House committee on appropriations chairperson and Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co; Majority Leader and Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe; and Minority Leader and 4Ps party-list Rep. Marcelino Libanan.