MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Budget and Management will release new guidelines to tighten the use of confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) amid questionable disbursements by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
"Once the new rules are released, all CIF fund uses will be subject to strict liquidation. Mere certification of CIF fund uses will not be allowed," Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement.
Abad made the statement after former PCSO general manager Rosario Uriarte admitted in a Senate hearing that millions of pesos of PCSO's budget were diverted to intelligence funds during the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo.
Intel funds are not subject to the Commission on Audit's examination.
"First of all, it is already questionable for PCSO at that time to have a CIF, purportedly for anti-illegal gambling operations. PCSO officials and staff aren't even soldiers or criminal investigators," Abad said.
Abad also slammed the process by which the supposed intel funds were released. Uriarte said she personally handed request letters to Arroyo and the former president approved these immediately by signing "Ok".
"They circumvented proper processes to expedite the release. The funds may have been used for seemingly noble purposes, but the P325-million release in those three years under the previous administration was done in a vulgar fashion," Abad added.
The official said that P160 million CIF released by PCSO in 2010 alone was larger than the combined P157 million CIF budget of the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Uriarte told the Senate panel that the PCSO CIF went to, among others, the rollout of the agency's small town lottery project, surveillance on gaming operations, payment of blood money for overseas Filipino workers on death row and typhoon relief operations.