MANILA – An opposition senator is questioning the allocation of P150 million in intelligence funds for the Department of Education, which is higher than the intel funds sought by the state intelligence agency.
Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier said the DepEd's P150 million in confidential and intelligence funds is bigger than the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency’s (NICA) P141 million.
Hontiveros said while she is not questioning the legal basis for granting intelligence funds to civilian agencies, she is dissatisfied with DepEd’s explanation as to why they needed it.
“Hindi pa rin katanggap-tanggap, kasi for example, wala namang kakayahan or infrastructure ang DepEd to conduct surveillance activities or even crime-busting,” she said.
(I cannot accept their explanation, because for example, they don't have the skills or ability to conduct surveillance activities or crime-busting.)
“Of course I share in the department’s advocacy of making schools safe spaces for our children but, let’s leave it to the pros, ‘di ba? Kung yung NICA aagawin yung education mandate ng DepEd, tututol din ako (If NICA would steal DepEd's education mandate I would also object).”
Duterte earlier said the confidential fund would be used for programs against "sexual grooming," "active shooter copycats," "insurgency recruitment" of children, and drug involvement of learners.
Hontiveros said national security, defense, law enforcement, and even women and children protection agencies are already in place to help children in need.
“Any intelligence operation that DepEd might conduct would be redundant,” she said.
She backed the call of her fellow minority senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III to realign DepEd’s confidential funds to other projects.
“Right now, may hinaharap na tayong matinding education crisis, so madi-distract lang ang education agency kung magfo-focus din sila sa national security,” she said.
(Right now, we are facing a terrible education crisis, so the education agency would just be distracted if they focus on national security.)
“Nagsimula na ako nung budget hearing ng DepEd itanong kung pwedeng i-realign yung ganyang confidential and intelligence funds ng DepEd sa mga mandato talaga nila tulad halimbawa indigenous people’s education. In the same way, we’re not yet out of the woods on the pandemic, tumataas ang COVID cases sa mga schools,” she said.
(During the DepEd budget hearing, I asked if they could align their confidential and intelligence funds to indigenous people's education and pandemic response. We are not yet out of the woods on the pandemic, COVID cases are increasing in schools.)
--ANC, 6 October 2022