Group calls for transparency on spending of rechanneled confidential, intel funds


After the House Committee on Appropriations scrapped the confidential funds for the Office of the Vice President, Department of Education, and three other national government agencies, fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) called for transparency on the spending of the would-be rechanneled funds.

All in all, a total of P1.23 billion worth of confidential funds were removed after the House panel agreed to reallocate P194 billion from the proposed 2024 national budget for 2024 to other government budget items, for among others, address the rising cost of basic commodities, and develop and protect the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Other agencies, which lost their confidential fund allocation under the House’s proposed amendments, are the Department of Agriculture, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and Department of Foreign Affairs.

Benefitting from these rechanneling are the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), which will get P300 million, Philippine Coast Guard for intelligence activities, P200 million and the National Security Council receiving P100 million.

“The removal of billions of pesos of confidential funds to the civilian government agencies headed by VP Sara Duterte is a bare minimum thing to do, especially in the face of economic crises battering the Filipinos. This recent development can be fully credited to the persistent efforts of progressive legislators and the public to expose the anomalous confidential funds,” Pamalakaya said in a statement.

“While we recognize the urgency to rechannel these funds to agencies directly involved in the defense of the West Philippine Sea, the public still deserves utmost transparency,” the group, a persistent critic of the government said.

“For instance, the group said NICA and NSC would be getting an additional P300 million and P100 million, respectively, from the rechanneled funds. We deserve to know how these additional funds will be used specifically for the protection of our territorial waters,” the group said, adding that the same rechanneled funds should never be used to commit human rights abuses.

The group said that if the government truly wants to strengthen the defense and claim in our territorial waters, it might as well fund the local research and development to explore and fully utilize the resource potentials of the WPS. 

“Lastly, in terms of concrete defense measures, the local maritime authorities must step up reconnaissance patrol in our territorial waters to secure the fishing activities of Filipino fisherfolk,” Fernando Hicap, national chairperson of fisherfolk group, said.