OVP, DepEd, 3 other offices lose P1.2B in secret funds | Inquirer News

OVP, DepEd, 3 other offices lose P1.2B in secret funds

/ 05:50 AM October 11, 2023

Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo

Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo (Photo from the Facebook page of the House of Representatives)

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Sara Duterte will lose P650 million in confidential funds after a four-member panel of lawmakers decided to strip five government agencies of their allocation in the proposed national budget for next year.

On Tuesday, the panel led by the House appropriations committee chair, Rep. Elizaldy Co, announced amendments totaling P194 billion in the 2024 budget, including P1.23 billion in realigned confidential funds.


The realigned confidential funds represent 25 percent of the original P4.864-billion allocation for 2024. The P5.277-billion budget for intelligence funds, meanwhile, was untouched.


Duterte, who is concurrent education secretary, stood to forgo the most as the Office of the Vice President (OVP) had sought P500 million in confidential funds, while the Department of Education (DepEd) had asked for P150 million.

The other agencies that would get zero confidential funds are the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Their original requests for confidential funds were P30 million for the DA, P50 million for the DFA, and P300 million for the DICT.

The agencies stripped of confidential funds would instead get the following amounts for maintenance and other operating expenses: P30 million for the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (an agency under the DA), P25 million for the DICT, P30 million for the DFA, P50 million for the Office of the Ombudsman, and P150 million for the DepEd’s Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education.

At a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said the four-member panel “reached a unanimous decision to remove or realign the controversial confidential funds” in House Bill No. 8980 (2024 General Appropriations Bill).

Quimbo said other government agencies only had their confidential funds reduced.


These are the Bureau of Customs (from P100 million to P69.5 million); the Department of Justice (from P256.7 million to P168 million); the Office of the Solicitor General (from P19.2 million to P10 million); the Anti-Money Laundering Council (from P10 million to P7.5 million); the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (from P60 million to P54 million); and the Office of the Ombudsman (from P51.468 million to P1 million).

In deciding to realign P194 billion in the P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, Quimbo said the panel carefully considered the mandate of government agencies enjoying confidential funds, and the agencies’ use of their budgets.

“We looked at the programs that are difficult to implement, and the agencies which said, you can get these funds because realistically, we cannot implement these programs. That amount is spread through several agencies,” said Quimbo, the House appropriations panel senior vice chair.

However, two members of the Makabayan bloc had mixed feelings about the changes in the 2024 budget.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas commended the House’s small committee for reallocating confidential funds to government agencies that actually needed them.

“This is a huge win for the vast majority of Filipino people calling for transparency and accountability in government spending,” said Brosas, the House assistant minority leader.

Elizaldy Co —Photo from Office of Elizaldy Co Media Affairs

Rep. Elizaldy Co (Photo from his office)

However, her colleague, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, called the realignments a “mere palliative measure.”

Progressive groups on Tuesday also urged the House of Representatives to make sure that the confidential funds they stripped from civilian agencies would be realigned to basic social services and to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) as public, auditable budget items.

New beneficiaries

The panel recommended that P1.23 billion in confidential funds be realigned to four government agencies “in charge of monitoring and protecting the country’s territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea.”

This is broken down into P300 million for the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, P100 million for the National Security Council, P200 million for the PCG for its intelligence activities and ammunition, and P381.8 million for the Department of Transportation for the development and expansion of the Pag-asa Island airport, which has a total allocation of P3 billion in the 2024 budget.

Co said the House wanted a master plan for the Kalayaan Island Group to turn it into the “new Maldives” of the world and “attract Chinese tourists to go there.”

Quimbo said the confidential funds of some government agencies were retained because their mandate included the conduct of surveillance activities, citing the case of the justice department.

What the House small committee did for other agencies was to make the previously secret, nontransparent confidential funds “auditable” by reallocating them to other line items such as maintenance and operating expenses.

Co said that other amendments to the 2024 budget bill were “designed to fight inflation and invest in people and the country’s future.”

To enhance food production and combat inflation, especially the high cost of rice, the small committee gave P20 billion to the DA for its rice subsidy program; P40 billion to the National Irrigation Administration for its solar-driven irrigation pumps and communal irrigation; P2 billion to the Philippine Coconut Authority for massive planting and replanting of seedlings; P1.5 billion for vaccines against African swine fever, and P1 billion to the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority to construct fishery and postharvest facilities in Palawan and the Kalayaan group of islands.

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The panel also gave P43.9 billion to the Department of Health to help indigent patients as well as legacy and specialty hospitals; P1 billion to the Philippine General Hospital; P35 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development; P17.5 billion to the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to assist disadvantaged and displaced workers; P10.4 billion to the Dole-Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Training for Work Scholarship Program, and P17.1 billion to the Commission on Higher Education’s Tertiary Education Subsidy and Tulong Dunong Program.

TAGS: confidential and secrret funds, Elizaldy Co, Sara Duterte, secret funds

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