Lagman urges Bongbong Marcos to also cut secret funds
MANILA, Philippines — Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman has urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to also call for the removal of some of the confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) under his disposal in the proposed 2024 national budget, saying that it can be used for other purposes.
In a statement on Thursday, Lagman asked if Marcos would follow the example of other agencies like the Office of the Ombudsman who asked for lower confidential funds — a reduction from the P51 million in the National Expenditures Program (NEP) to just P1 million under the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
“Will the Office of the President voluntarily relinquish a good portion of its huge confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) for 2024 amounting to P4.5 billion, following the examples of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Office of the Solicitor General which forfeited the whole or a great portion of their secret funds?” Lagman said.
“Any forfeited funds from the CIF of President Marcos Jr. will go a long way to further support specific activities of the Departments of Health, Labor and Employment, and Social Welfare and Development, as well as rice productivity and financial assistance to farmers,” he added.
According to the lawmaker, there are agencies under the Office of the President (OP) that have benefitted from the reduction or removal of the CFs from civilian agencies.
“Incidentally, the National Security Council and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), both attached to the Office of the President, have been reallocated confidential funds in the amount of P100 million and P300 million, respectively,” Lagman noted.
In the NEP which was submitted by the executive branch, the OP controls P4.5 billion of the CIF — or almost half of the entire P10.14 billion CIF.
It is unclear if the small committee at the House of Representatives altered the CIF given to the OP, but the confidential fund (CF) requests of the following agencies were removed:
- Office of the Vice President (OVP): P500 million
- Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT): P300 million
- Department of Education (DepEd): P150 million
- Department of Agriculture (DA): P50 million
- Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA): P50 million
OVP and DepEd are headed by Vice President Sara Duterte, while President Marcos is concurrent DA Secretary.
Meanwhile, the following agencies got cuts to its proposed CF for 2024:
- Department of Justice (DOJ-Office of the Secretary): P88.6 million
- Office of the Ombudsman: P50.4 million
- Bureau of Customs (BOC): P30.5 million
- Office of the Solicitor General (OSG): P9.2 million
- Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU): P6 million
- Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC): P2.5 million
All in all, over P1.2 billion worth of CFs were reallocated either to agencies securing the West Philippine Sea, or to the same offices as maintenance and other operating expenses items — just like DepEd whose CF was turned into aid for teachers and students.
Lagman noted that the CIFs of chief executives before former president Rodrigo Duterte were way lower.
“It was during the time of former President Rodrigo Duterte when the CIF of the President ballooned to P4.5 billion from only P500 million during the time of President Benigno Aquino III or 900% increase,” he said.
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