More solons stand with House leaders’ decision to cut secret funds | Inquirer News

More solons stand with House leaders’ decision to cut secret funds

/ 05:59 PM October 17, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — More lawmakers from the House of Representatives have voiced their support for the leadership’s decision to remove or reduce the confidential funds (CF) of civilian agencies, with some noting that the best way to address the issue is through dialogues and not divisive statements.

Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. on Tuesday said that he understands people can be passionate regarding topics that are important to them, but issues are better settled through peaceful deliberation.

“It is always preferable and always more productive to dial up dialogue and dial down divisive rhetoric when we deliberate on the issues that concern our people […] it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable,” Abante said in a statement.


“Naturally, we leaders can be passionate about our advocacies and can be very resolute in our positions.  But even in our most intense debates there should always be room for comity and collegiality,” he added.


Abante said that while there may be deliberations as to whether an agency deserves CF or not, at the end of the day, Congress needs to decide what move would benefit the people the most.

“Our foremost duty as public servants is to the Filipino people, and it is incumbent upon us to rise above personal and political divides to prioritize their welfare and the nation’s advancement,” he noted.

Several other lawmakers from Mindanao, including Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, said that he supports Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez amid attacks from former President Rodrigo Duterte.

“As one of the senior members of the House, I stand by the institution’s integrity and strict adherence to the law,” Barbers said.

Duterte recently spoke out against the House, calling it the most rotten organization, and said that it has a pork barrel supposedly being distributed by Romualdez.

The accusations came after the House ultimately decided to remove the CF request of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) under the proposed 2024 national budget, amounting to P500 million and P150 million.


Both OVP and DepEd are headed by Duterte’s daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte.

READ: How House removed, reduced the confidential funds of gov’t agencies

“To the best of my knowledge, no Confidential and Intelligence Fund was ever appropriated to the House of Representatives, as validated by the COA audit reports,” Barbers said.

“Likewise, since the Supreme Court’s declaration of the invalidity and illegality of the so-called ‘pork barrel’ funds, the House abided and all representatives have accepted the ruling,” he added.

Davao Oriental 2nd District Rep. Cheeno Almario also noted that the House under Romualdez’s guidance has been transparent with its operations.

According to Almario, while he respects former President Duterte’s views on the House, the truth is that the chamber is submitted to auditing from the Commission on Audit.

“Under Speaker Romualdez’s guidance, the House has consistently demonstrated its commitment to good governance, transparency, and the welfare of the Filipino people. Being a part of this great institution gives me great pride and joy,” Almario said.

“On the recent statement of the former President, we respect his opinion as we do others, as well. Let the axe fall where it may. The latest Commission on Audit report will show how the House funds were dispensed responsibly,” he added.

Almario was referring to Duterte’s push for an audit of the House.  Some of Duterte’s allies and supporters also claimed that the legislative chamber has P1.6 billion worth of confidential funds, which key lawmakers have already debunked, saying that the said funds are for extraordinary expenses.

Extraordinary expenses are fully auditable, while auditing of the confidential funds is limited due to its secretive nature.

Aside from tirades against the House and Romualdez, Rodrigo Duterte was also accused of threatening ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, who pushed for the realignment of the OVP and DepEd’s CFs.

Duterte, during the same nationally-televised interview with Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), said he advised the Vice President to just be frank about the purpose of the CF — which is to supposedly kill communists like Castro.

“I told Inday (Sara), to be direct, tell them that the intelligence fund is meant to prepare the minds of the Filipinos, to address the insurgency that is taking a long time to end.  And the ROTC so that we are prepared for war, especially in this situation, if we do not have soldiers, then we will have the youth who can take care of their respective barangays,” he explained.

“But your first target there, using your intelligence funds, is you, France, you communists who I want to kill.  I asked her to tell them that, but she refused, saying ‘You know Pa if I did that, they might harass the PMTs (Philippine Military Training institutions),’” he added.

Lawmakers have condemned the attacks, urging Duterte to pursue peaceful means of disputing the House’ move.

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READ: Solon urges ex-president Duterte to file raps if he can prove House is rotten

TAGS: confidential funds, House, secret funds

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