Koko threatens to bring CIF to Supreme Court
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday threatened to take legal action a day after the Senate approved President Marcos’ request for P2.3 billion in confidential and intelligence funds (CIF), which was lodged under the proposed allocation of P10.6 billion for the Office of the President (OP).
The chamber also granted a separate appropriation of P2.25 billion for OP’s confidential expenses.
Pimentel argued that OP, being a civilian state agency, should not be given intelligence funds, pointing out that Mr. Marcos is actually just a “consumer and user” of intelligence reports generated by defense and law enforcement units.
“Providing OP with intelligence fund is conceptually wrong … It is misplaced,” Pimentel told reporters in a Zoom interview.
“I’m appealing to activist-lawyers for us to help each other in [developing a legal] theory of the case. If they can help me draft the petition, then I will file the petition [with the Supreme Court],” he said.
According to Pimentel, it was legally infirm to set aside intelligence funds to a civilian agency like OP “that is nonuniformed, unarmed and whose mandate does not [involve] the practice of intelligence gathering.”
The opposition senator, who topped the bar exams in 1990, cited two other reasons why the planned P5.768-trillion national expenditure program would flout the 1987 Constitution.
Besides the lump-sum appropriations for the OP, he said earmarking a bigger amount for the unprogrammed appropriations in the spending plan and the President’s decision to certify as urgent the passage of the national budget would also make it unconstitutional.
“The budget process happens every year. It’s predictable … So the presidential certification is misplaced,” the opposition senator said.
Told that it might lead to a reenacted government budget, Pimentel acknowledged that it would be the logical effect if the high court grants the relief he sought.
“Should that be the effect of an unconstitutional budget law, then so be it. Let’s face it. We have to live with it,” he said. “The consequence should not prevent us from questioning [the proposed budget].”
Detailed OP use of CIF
During the Senate plenary budget deliberations on Thursday, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said OP’s report on its disbursement of CIF for this year was the most comprehensive among the documents that the upper chamber received from state agencies.
“I just want to put on record that the CIF [utilization] report of the OP is one of the most detailed and comprehensive reports that I have seen. It is the most detailed among all the other agencies,” said Zubiri, who presided over the budget debates.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, who defended the OP’s budget proposal, echoed Zubiri’s observation, adding that the documents that Malacañang sent to the Senate for scrutiny even contained the specific cases funded by the President’s CIF.
“I was there [when the report on the OP’s CIF was tackled]. And I confirm that there was great specificity of the report,” Angara said.