Hontiveros calls to stop 'bad precedent' on confidential funds


Posted at Sep 18 2023 10:33 AM

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MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday said she hopes Congress will limit allocating confidential funds to civilian agencies, saying that will help promote transparency in government.

Confidential funds have been proposed for a range of civilian agencies, including the education department, the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

"Sana pareho kaming mga senador at mga representative makakita na tama na 'yung bad precedent of last year. Pinagbigyan eh, 'yung confidential and intelligence funds ng OVP (Office of the Vice President), DepEd (Department of Education), and others," Hontiveros told ANC's "Headstart."

(I hope that senators and representatives see that the bad precedent of last year should be enough. We let that pass, the confidential and intelligence funds of the OVP, DepEd, and others.)

"Sana natuto kami para this year ilagay namin sa tamang paglagyan so that a better accounting can be made by the agencies and by COA (Commission on Audit) in next year's budget debates," Hontiveros, of the Senate minority, said.

(I hope that we have learned a lesson and we put funding in the right places.)

For 2024, the OVP and the DepEd, both under Vice President Sara Duterte, are requesting P500 million and P150 million in confidential funds, respectively. 

Confidential funds for intelligence agencies

Hontiveros vowed to double down on her campaign of allocating the majority of surveillance funds to intelligence agencies in the next Senate budget hearings.

"Ilagay natin sa ayos. 'Yung intelligence needs ng gobyerno should be properly in the largest part be lodged with the intelligence agencies so we can leave it to the experts and let them make an accounting of those every budget season," she said. 

Confidential and intelligence funds were retained when the House Committee on Appropriations approved the proposed 2024 national budget last week. 

In total, the government is requesting P5.277 billion for intelligence expenses and P4.864 billion for confidential expenses in the proposed General Appropriations Act.