Lawmakers to cut OVP, DepEd confidential funds to boost budget of security agencies

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — The ₱650 million in confidential funds requested by the Office of the Vice President and Department of Education will be reduced and reallocated to security and intelligence agencies tasked to counter threats in the West Philippine Sea, House appropriations panel chairman Elizaldy Co said Wednesday.

Co said lawmakers have initially identified offices under Vice President Sara Duterte that will be affected by the realignment. The OVP and DepEd are seeking confidential funds amounting to ₱500 million and ₱150 million, respectively, under the 2024 National Expenditure Program.

“So far that’s what we have identified, but we’re still looking at other sources,” the Ako Bicol party-list representative said.

Duterte is in hot water for issues on transparency regarding confidential funds, especially after lawmakers found that her office spent ₱125 million in a matter of days.

READ: OVP clarifies ₱125-M confidential funds in 2022 were spent in 19 days

Co said lawmakers crossed party lines to unanimously decide to augment the budgets of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), National Security Council (NSC), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

“The CIFs (confidential and intelligence fund) from other departments and agencies will be realigned to the NSA, NICA, PCG, and BFAR to boost the country’s monitoring and operational capabilities in protecting our territorial waters and securing the rights and access of Filipino fishermen to their traditional fishing grounds,” he said.

The House of Representatives and the Senate earlier announced that they have agreed to realign the CIF to agencies tasked to ensure national security, days after China installed a 300-meter-long floating barrier in the West Philippine Sea.

“Now is the time to give our intelligence community the means to perform their duties, especially in these pressing times when we’re facing serious concerns in the West Philippine Sea,” Co said.