House Party leader: CIF reallocation to be discussed in lower chamber’s small committee or bicam

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — A House of Representatives party leader said amendments to the proposed 2024 budget, including the reallocation of the confidential and intelligence funds of some agencies, will still be discussed either in a small committee to be formed by the lower chamber or during the bicameral conference. 

The House passed Wednesday night the proposed 2024 national budget of ₱5.768 trillion. Due to time constraints, lawmakers were unable to discuss proposed amendments to it, so confidential and intelligence funds of requesting agencies remain intact, Surigao del Sur Representative Johnny Pimentel told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Thursday. 

“However, there will be a small committee of four that will tackle the proposed amendments, it could be done there, or it could be done during the bicameral conference,” he noted.

The government hopes to have next year's budget signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. by December. Deliberations are still ongoing in the Senate, which will be followed by the bicameral conference after the 2024 national spending plan is approved by the upper chamber.

Pimentel said lawmakers have also yet to discuss the total amount to be reallocated. He noted that 28 government agencies have confidential and intelligence funds under the current version of the 2024 budget.

House appropriations committee chairman Elizaldy Co has said one of those they are considering is the ₱650 million allocated to the Sara Duterte-led Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education.

Congressmen said in their joint statement that the reallocated confidential and intelligence funds will be placed under agencies tasked to ensure national security amid China’s continued aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea. They specifically mentioned the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the National Security Council, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Pimentel said other agencies may still be added to the list like the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for its anti-illegal drugs program.

“It’s more or less how to prioritize, it is rebalancing the budget to suit the needs of the agencies that are mandated for these concerns,” he added.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Wednesday that the upper chamber agreed to follow suit. He said senators “shall review all agencies” in determining the reallocation of confidential and intelligence funds.