MANILA (UPDATED) -- The House Leadership says the House of Representatives will realign the confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) of certain civilian agencies -- including the Office of the Vice President and Department of Education -- to augment the budgets of intelligence and security forces tasked to address escalating threats in the West Philippine Sea.
This, according to House appropriations committee chairman Elizaldy Co.
“The country’s safety and security are of paramount importance. To protect our territorial integrity from external threats, Congress is giving top priority to agencies directly in charge protecting the country’s safety and securing its borders,” Co said in a statement.
The decision came after a unanimous decision of all party heads in the House of Representatives. Co said the Lower House will augment funding for the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), the National Security Council (NSC), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
“As discussed, we will realign the confidential funds of various civilian agencies. Now is the time to give our intelligence community the means to perform their duties, especially in these pressing times when we’re facing serious concerns in the West Philippine Sea,” Co explained in the same statement.
“The CIFs from other departments and agencies will be realigned to the NSA, NICA, PCG and BFAR to boost the country’s monitoring and operational capabilities in protecting our territorial waters and securing the rights and access of Filipino fishermen to their traditional fishing grounds,” he said.
Responding to media queries, Co said among those to be affected by the budget cuts are the OVP and DepEd, which were allocated a combined amount of P650 million in confidential and intelligence funds under the 2024 National Expenditure Program.
“So far that’s what we have identified, but we’re still looking at other sources,” he said.
“The House leadership will exercise its mandate with care and determination to ensure that public funds are used properly and where the money is needed most for the good of the country,” Co stressed.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education reiterated its position that it defers to the wisdom of the Congress even as it stressed that they need the confidential funds.
"We have even given statistics during the committee budget hearings for the provision of safe and enabling learning environment," DepEd Spokesperson Undersecretary Michael Poa said.
"But at the end of the day, we have always been consistent in our position that we will defer to the wisdom of the majority of Congress on the matter," he added. -- with a report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News