House official vows fix for programs with zero budget, mum on DepEd confidential fund

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2022 02:00 PM

This composite image shows House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe and Vice President Sara Duterte. Press and Public Affairs Bureau handout/George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
This composite image shows House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe and Vice President Sara Duterte. Press and Public Affairs Bureau handout/George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The House will transfer funds to projects that received zero budget in the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), a key House official said Monday, but was mum on realigning confidential funds from the Department of Education (DepEd) led by Vice President Sara Duterte.

"Definitely there will be changes on that, hindi naman maze-zero," House Majority Leader and Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe said of the lack of budget for some programs. 

"The instruction of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is to see to it that when we forward it or when we transmit it to the Senate maayos nang lahat," he told House reporters after the monthly flag-raising ceremony at the Batasan Pambansa. 

(It won't be zero. The instruction of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is to see to it that when we forward it or when we transmit it to the Senate, everything is already fixed.)

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III over the weekend said confidential funds sought by the DepEd and the Office of the Vice President should be transferred to other agencies or programs. 

"I am one with him for additional budget for the classrooms but not necessarily naman kukunin sa (getting it from) confidential funds," Dalipe said of Pimentel's suggestion. 

"When the Vice President was here during the sponsorship of the budget of her department, clear naman kay Secretary Sara Duterte yung purpose ng confidential funds. And if there is a need to add more funds for classrooms, then we will add accordingly," he added. 

(The purpose of the confidential funds was clear to her.)

Asked if the DepEd's P150-million confidential funds would be touched, Dalipe said, "I will update you after nung small group namin sa small committee." 

(I will update you after our small group meeting.) 

Dalipe explained that the small committee created by the House would soon convene to rule on the proposed individual amendments of lawmakers for the 2023 NEP.

He is in the committee along with Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan, House Appropriations Committee Chair Elizaldy Co and Senior Vice Chair Stella Quimbo.

"We will be convening the small committee para sa mga amendments. Siguro in a few days we will be able to forward it already to the Senate. We're just trying to...trying yung amendments." Dalipe said. 

(We will be convening the small committee for the amendments. Perhaps in a few days, will be able to forward it already to the Senate. We're just trying the amendments.)

Aside from DepEd, the Office of the Vice President also sought P500 million in confidential funds.

Opposition lawmaker and Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman went after those funds during the budget hearings, a position he reiterated in a statement on Monday.

"The 2023 national budget must be purged of unnecessary and excessive confidential and intelligence funds amounting to 9.29 billion which are embedded in various offices, agencies, and departments," said Lagman. 

"This total amount is much bigger than the appropriations of many government offices and departments, including the constitutional commissions and offices," he said.

Duterte left the matter to the discretion of Congress, which is dominated by her allies.