DepEd confidential fund bigger than state intel agency's, Hontiveros points out

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 4) — Senator Risa Hontiveros again questioned the proposed ₱150-million confidential fund for the Department of Education (DepEd), pointing out that it is even bigger than the amount initially earmarked for the state intelligence agency.

Under the proposed spending plan for next year, ₱141.2 million is allotted for the confidential and intelligence funds of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

“The budget prioritization is misplaced. Let’s leave intelligence and security to the pros,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

In total, NICA has a proposed ₱1.058-billion budget under the 2023 National Expenditure Program. The Senate committee on finance approved the amount in an executive session on Tuesday, along with the allotted ₱343.3-million funding for the National Security Council.

During the two-hour, closed-door session, panel chairman Sonny Angara said the two agencies discussed how they spent their 2022 budgets.

He said both appealed for additional funds of “hundreds of millions each.”

Meanwhile, Angara said he does not see any problem with the intelligence fund requested by the DepEd.

“Kung kailangan nila ‘yung intel funds, then as long as di nasasayang, may pampublikong layunin siya, sa akin okay naman," Angara said. "Basta nadya-justify nila."

[Translation: If they need the intel funds, then it’s okay with me, as long as they are not wasted and it’s all used for the public good. They just have to justify it.]

Vice President Sara Duterte, who also serves as Education secretary, earlier said the confidential funds will be used to help fight crimes targeting learners and teachers.

She also said she has left the matter to the discretion of Congress.