Malacañang ups own intel fund allocation in 2012 budget | Inquirer News

Malacañang ups own intel fund allocation in 2012 budget

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang has jacked up President Benigno S. Aquino III’s intelligence fund by P200 million in the proposed P1.8-trillion national budget for next year, but removed intelligence provisions from several other agencies and departments such as the judiciary.

The budget proposal is also aimed at preventing rampant “fund conversion” by placing some P23 billion in unspent salaries for unfilled positions in a new item called “miscellaneous personnel benefit fund.”

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Under the new approach, Sen. Franklin Drilon, finance committee chairman, said an agency could not use the money unless “actual hiring is done.”

“The practice of converting this budget to savings and converting it to other items in the budget will no longer be possible,” he told reporters, noting that undisbursed salary allocations had been the source of fund conversions in agencies such as the military.

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The P23-billion fund was based on the allocation for a total of 66,957 positions in the bureaucracy, which remained unfilled—though funded—as of this year.

“This is a source of conversion, not only in the military, but also in other agencies,” Drilon said.

In the case of intelligence funds, an equally controversial item in the budget, the President’s allocation was increased from P400 million to P600 million. In all, the total government intelligence fund was increased from P1.14 billion to P1.32 billion next year.

Based on Malacanang’s national expenditure program, the following agencies will no longer enjoy intelligence funds—Office of the Solicitor General, National Security Council, and National Telecommunications Commission.

Besides the judiciary, the group also includes the Commission on Elections and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Drilon said the rationale behind the strict allocation of the intelligence fund was to “limit it to those involved in intelligence gathering.”

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