Senate eyes increasing intel funds of Navy, PCG amid WPS dispute – Zubiri

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) – Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the upper chamber will work to increase the confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) amid rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea.


PH concludes new resupply mission to Ayungin after continued ‘harassment’ by China

PH rejects, protests China’s expanded 10-dash line in South China Sea

“Dahil sa nangyayari sa West Philippine Sea, gusto po namin dagdagan ang budget ng ating mga sundalo at Navy personnel, lalo na sa Navy at coast guard, to strengthen our external defense capabilities para magkaroon po tayo ng credible defensive posture,” Zubiri said in a Saturday interview.

[Translation: Because of what’s happening in the West Philippine Sea, we want to increase the budget of our soldiers and Navy, especially to the Navy and coast guard, to strengthen our external defense capabilities so we can have a credible defensive posture.]

“Iyan po ang pangako namin sa inyo, may maiiba pagdating po sa intelligence funds at confidential funds [This is our promise to you, there will be changes with the CIFs]. And I think it will be reflected in the outcome of the Senate hearings of the budget,” he added.

Under the proposed national budget for 2024, the CIFs of the PCG and Navy stand at ₱10 million and ₱39.74 million, respectively, Zubiri disclosed.

“Imagine, ‘yung coast guard ay ₱10 million lang ‘yung confidential fund nila. ‘Yung ibang ahensya ng gobyerno, hundreds of millions. So, I would suggest na puwede nating ilipat doon sa mga kailangan talaga ng intelligence funds at madagdagan ang intelligence funds to protect us both internally and externally,” he said.

[Translation: Imagine, the PCG’s CIF is only ₱10 million while other agencies are in the hundreds of millions. So, I would suggest that we realign the budget to agencies that really need intelligence funds to protect us both internally and externally.]

Zubiri also said that the Senate is considering the possible revival of the Select Oversight Committee on CIFs that will review the use of the government agencies’ intelligence funds.

Since the start of the budget deliberations, lawmakers have questioned the proposed ₱10.14 billion in CIFs in the 2024 National Expenditure Program.

Some agencies which have been flagged for their big CIFs include the Office of the President with ₱4.5 billion, the Office of the Vice President with ₱500 million, and the Department of Education with ₱150 million.

Senator Risa Hontiveros pointed out that these agencies do not have the same responsibilities as intelligence gathering units of government such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of National Defense, and the Philippine National Police.