House realigns P1.23B in confidential funds

(UPDATE) THE House of Representatives has realigned a total of 1.23 billion in confidential funds from various government agencies, Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said on Wednesday.

Quimbo, vice chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, said that of the amount, P1.05 billion was taken from the:

Office of the Vice President

Department of Education (DepEd)

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)

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Department of Foreign Affairs

Department of Agriculture

Quimbo said the remaining P187 million was from six government agencies “whose confidential funds have been cut down”:

Bureau of Customs

Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity

Department of Justice’s Office of the Secretary

Office of the Solicitor General

Anti-Money Laundering Council

Office of the Ombudsman

Quimbo said the P1.23 billion was realigned to the:

National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (P300 million)

National Security Council (P100 million)

Philippine Coast Guard (P200 million)

Department of Transportation (P351 million)

DepEd’s Government Assistance to Students and Teachers (P150 million)

DICT’s Cybercrime Prevention, Investigation and Coordination Program (P25 million)

Department of Foreign Affairs operations (P30 million)

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses or MOOE (P30 million)

Office of the Ombudsman’s MOOE (P50.4 million)

“The confidential fund of the Office of the Ombudsman has been reduced to P1 million as per request of the agency, while the remainder of the proposed budget it originally sought has been realigned for its Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses or MOOE,” Quimbo said.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires made the request in a letter on October 6 to Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Senate finance committee chairman, and Rep. Elizaldy Co, House appropriations committee chairman.

“Consistent with my earlier pronouncement before your Committee, I would like to officially request that notwithstanding its investigative functions, that the Office of the Ombudsman be appropriated the amount of P1 million for its Confidential and Intelligence Fund in FYs (fiscal years) 2024 and 2025 or until the end of my term of office as Ombudsman,” Martires said.

Martires had offered to forego the Ombudsman’s CIFs during the budget deliberations conducted separately by the House and the Senate.

“If it will only taint the reputation of the Ombudsman and its office, I am willing that this be scratched. I think we can survive without confidential funds,” Martires said last September 27 when Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd asked him about his office’s CIF.

“I would like to be the first from the investigating agencies to request Congress that..[we will] not have confidential funds during [the rest of] my term of office,” said the former Supreme Court and Sandiganbayan Justice, who also furnished Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Speaker Martin Romualdez with his letter to Angara and Co.

Martires’ seven year term as Ombudsman will end in August 2025.

Meanwhile, Quimbo said the confidential funds of the BoC and the Opapru have been reverted to “Fiscal Year 2023 levels, which now amount to P69.5 million and P54 million, respectively.”

She said that the DoJ’s Office of the Secretary, the OSG, and the AMLC “also faced a slash in confidential budget expenses.”

The House has formed a small committee that would receive and resolve amendments to the budget bill.

Co said that the small committee was responding “to the call of the times and the volatile situation in the West Philippine Sea” in deciding to make the realignments.

The House has realigned the P 1.23-billion in confidential funds from the Office of the Vice President, Department of Education, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Agriculture and Department of Foreign Affairs in favor of the fund requirements of agencies in charge of ensuring national security especially in the West Philippine Sea.

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