Castro warns provision in budget 'allowing secret fund transfer' by President

Castro warns provision in budget ‘allowing secret fund transfer’ by President

/ 04:26 PM December 20, 2023

Castro clarifies: House leaders not part of impeachment talks vs VP Duterte

ACT Rep. France Castro (FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro has warned against the possibility of civilian agencies still getting confidential funds (CF), as a provision in the newly-signed 2024 budget stated that transfers can be done if the President certifies its extreme necessity.

Castro, just minutes after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA) into law, mentioned a supposed provision for the contingent funds which gives the Chief Executive the power to decide which civilian agencies can get the CF.


“Sa special provision for contingent fund, sablay ang probisyong ‘The provision of confidential and intelligence funds to civilian departments and agencies with no mandate to perform security and intelligence-related functions unless the president certifies as to the extreme necessity thereof’,” she said.


“Sa madaling sabi, pwede nang magkaroon ng confidential and intelligence funds ang isang ahensiyang walang kinalaman sa security at intelligence-related functions basta ma-certify lang ng presidente na ‘extreme necessity’ ito,” she added.

(In short, an agency not involved in security and intelligence-related functions can have confidential and intelligence funds as long as the President certifies to its ‘extreme necessity’.)

READ: Bongbong Marcos signs P5.768-trillion 2024 nat’l budget 

Castro reminded the public that it was through an Office of the President (OP) certification that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) got a P125 million CF for 2022, even if the agency’s original 2022 budget crafted during the time of former vice president Leni Robredo did not have such provisions.

“Kung ating matatandaan, nakakuha ang OVP ng approval mula sa OP para makakuha ng P125 million confidential funds noong 2022 kahit wala ito sa GAA,” explained.

(If we remember, the OVP was able to get approval to have a P125 million confidential funds for 2022 even if it was not in the GAA.)

The CF provision in 2022 which was brought up by Castro’s Makabayan bloc during the budget deliberations in the House — and the admission that it was spent in just 11 to 19 days in December 2022 — ultimately led to calls for the removal of secret funds allocated to civilian agencies that do not have a mandate to conduct investigations or surveillance.


READ: Lawmaker threatens VP Sara with impeach rap; Veep responds, ‘Enjoy’ 

READ: Quimbo: OVP’s P125M secret fund in 2022 spent in just 11 days 

Eventually, the House leadership decided to remove P1.2 billion worth of CF allocations to civilian agencies, including OVP’s P500 million request and the P150 million with the Department of Education — two agencies headed by Vice President Sara Duterte.

Earlier, Marcos signed the GAA without any veto, which means the House and Senate-ratified version of the General Appropriations Bill was retained. has asked the office of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co, chairperson of the House committee on appropriations, if the provision mentioned by Castro really exists.

Castro said that for them, the absence of CFs in the 2024 national budget and the reduced funding for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict are small wins because the budget for education is still small, while assistance to poor families are merely “band-aid solutions”.

“Mumong dagdag naman sa kapos na budget para sa edukasyon. Sa kabila ng classroom shortage at napakalaking class size, P100 million para sa Basic Education Facilities at P6.5 million para sa Improvement and Acquisition of School Sites lamang ang idinagdag ng Kongreso sa panukalang budget ng Executive,” she said.

(They gave small increases for the budget for education, despite the classroom shortage and huge class sizes, Congress only added P100 million for the Basic Education Facilities and P6.5 million for the Improvement and Acquisition of School Sites to the original proposed budget of the Executive.)

“Puro band-aid solutions kagaya ng AICS (Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation), MAIP (Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients) at TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced workers) ang dinagdagan ng budget,” she added.

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(They only have band-aid solutions like AICS, MAIP, and TUPAD, which they provided additional funds for.)

TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, confidential funds, France Castro

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