Convert confidential funds into ayuda, lawmaker tells bicam panel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 27) – As the Bicameral Conference Committee reconciles the differences between the House and Senate versions of the P5.286-trillion 2023 budget, ACT Teachers Representative France Castro said confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) should be converted into ayuda or cash aid.

"If all the ₱9.3B would be realigned to ayuda and ₱10,000 is to be given per poor family then at least 930,000 families or 4,650,000 poor Filipinos would benefit from it. If half of it would be realigned then 465,000 families would get ₱10,000 and 2,325,000 individuals would benefit," the teacher-lawmaker calculated, referring to the controversial ₱9.3-billion CIF sought in the 2023 budget.

When the Senate approved its version of the 2023 budget last Wednesday, Senate Committee on Finance chairperson Sonny Angara bared that ₱152.668 million in CIF had been realigned.

READ: Senate OKs ₱5.268T natl budget for 2023

"The ₱152-million CIF realigned by the Senate is a good start but this is far from enough. Mas malaking halaga ang dapat na kagyat na pakinabangan ng ating mga naghihirap na kababayan dahil sa taas ng implasyon, mababang sahod at kakulangan ng trabaho at ayuda," Castro said.

[Translation: A larger amount should immediately benefit our struggling countrymen because of high inflation, low wages, and lack of jobs and cash aid.]

Some ₱100 million of the realigned CIF came from the Department of Education headed by Vice President Sara Duterte.

Meanwhile, ₱5 million from the Department of Foreign Affairs, ₱19.2 million from the Department of Justice, ₱2 million from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, ₱20 million from the Office of the Ombudsman, and ₱6 million from other executive offices were also realigned.

“Pati mga ahensyang wala namang kinalaman sa intelligence gathering o surveillance ay binigyan nito. At ang sa Presidente nga ay umaabot sa ₱4.5 bilyon na," she added, referring to the CIF proposed for the Office of the President.

[Even agencies that have nothing to do with intelligence gathering or surveillance were given this and the President got up to ₱4.5 billion.]

Representatives from both chambers of Congress began joint deliberations on the 2023 budget on Friday.

WATCH HERE: 2023 budget goes through Bicameral Conference Committee