Bato wants DFA to have confidential funds

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2023 07:46 PM

MANILA — The Philippines will not bow out of its commitment to fight for the country’s territorial rights and interests, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo said Tuesday.

The country’s top diplomat underlined this stand before the Senate Committee on Finance deliberating on the agency's proposed P24.058 billion budget for 2024.

Senators asked Manalo how the DFA strengthens its defense ties with other countries.

“For example with Japan, we are also in discussion with them on various issues where they will be providing us some relevant assets in order to improve not just our defense capability but also in terms of monitoring, intelligence and this is now being increased. Same thing you mentioned about Canada,” Manalo said.

The Philippines, he added, is also finalizing its talks with Vietnam, and is using all its engagements with foreign officials to discuss the South China Sea issue.

For Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, the DFA needs its own confidential fund to uphold the country's interests.

“Because alam kong our counterparts from other countries, malaki ang investment nila dyan sa kanilang DFA... For James Bond purposes of other countries, ang laking investment nila sa kanilang DFA... Tayo lang ang jine-James Bond ng ibang bansa eh, tayo lang jine-James Bond,” Dela Rosa said.

“I would like to move, we need that confidential funds para dito sa DFA,” the senator added.

The motion prompted Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel to ask the DFA: “Is the department asking for confidential fund?”

Manalo replied: “No, we’re not asking.”

In a statement, Pimentel lauded the DFA for not wanting either a confidential or intelligence fund (CIF).

“The DFA, under Secretary Manalo, is a model of fiscal integrity. I hope I could say the same for the other agencies with the executive branch,” Pimentel said.

The DFA budget was later approved by the Senate Finance Committee, and was deemed submitted to the plenary.