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Confidential funds remain excluded in 2024 budget bill

By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu - Reporter - | December 11,2023 - 04:37 PM

Senator Angara

ANGARA DEFENDS 2024 DOJ BUDGET: Sen. Sonny Angara, chairperson of Senate Committee on Finance, defends the 2024 proposed budget of Department of Justice (DOJ) amounting to P35 billion on Tuesday, November 14, 2023. (File photo from Voltaire F. Domingo/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — The leaders of the Senate and House appropriations panels disclosed that the confidential funds (CF) removed earlier were not added back in the General Appropriations Bill approved by the bicameral conference committee.

In separate interviews, Senate finance committee chair Sonny Angara and House committee on appropriations chair Ako Bicol party-list Representative Elizaldy Co noted that the CFs for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) remained excluded.

Angara said while DepEd budget was increased, no CF was added.

“Yes, wala na. Nagdagdag kami ng budget pero hindi confidential funds […] Nilipat sa mga security agencies,” Angara told reporters.

(Yes, it’s not there. We increased some agencies’ budgets, but it’s not confidential funds […] It was realigned to security agencies.)

Co, meanwhile, thanked their Senate counterparts for sticking with the CF cuts made by House.

“Natutuwa kami sa buong Senado at nag-agree po sila at pinatunayan nila na walang mangyayaring katulad ng haka-haka na may mangyayari sa bicam na maibabalik ang confidential funds, especially sa education,” the House member said.

(We are happy that the entire Senate agreed, and they proved that no changes would be made, like speculations that there will be an instance in the bicam wherein confidential funds fund would be returned, especially in education.)

READ MORE: Bicam panel finalizes next year’s P5.768T nat’l budget bill

“Hindi ho ito naibalik and na-sustain ho natin ‘yong kagustuhan ng ating mga kababayan na iwasan na po ‘tong confidential, controversial funds,” he noted.

(It was not put back and we sustained the desire of our people to avoid these confidential, controversial funds.)

After House approved its version of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) in September 2023, House leaders agreed to realign to other offices the CFs of civilian agencies that do not have a mandate to perform investigations or surveillance.

Such funds were transferred to units engaged in securing West Philippine Sea, like Philippine Coast Guard.

READ MORE: Confidential funds: House gives zero secret funds for OVP, DepEd, DICT, DFA, DA

Sara Duterte: People who attack confidential funds have ‘insidious motivations’

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TAGS: confidential funds, national budget

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