Sen. Drilon wants to redistribute RPs intelligence fund to regular items

By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, November 3, 2010-Senator Franklin Drilon, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee wants to redistribute the Philippines intelligence fund intended to regular items rather than being included as a lump sum item in the budget which is not subject to audit.


He said that the Office of the President (OP) has reduced its confidential and intelligence fund to P400 million from the initial P650 million in the proposed P1.6 trillion 2011 national budget, adding that the government should take a look and revisit the use of intelligence funds to reprogram it to line functions which will be opened to a regular audit, rather than under the lump sum of confidential funds.


The Senator added that the Philippines can properly monitor if the intelligence funds were actually used for security purposes, stressing that under the proposal submitted by the OP to Congress, P150 million would have been allocated to the OP proper, while P500 million for the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF).


The OP proper trimmed its intelligence fund by P50 million and another P250 million was slashed from the intelligence fund of PAOCTF and reallocated for various programs under OP, upon Drilon’s initiative, saying that the Philippines need to put intelligence funds as regular items so that the accounting and auditing of those funds will no longer be in the nature of intelligence funds but as an ordinary item of expense where it will be liquidated in accordance with the government auditing code.


The senate on finance committee has been averse to intelligence and confidential funds to civilian offices, noting that among others, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should only be the ones engaged in intelligence activities, however, he said that he understands the OP should have adequate, but not excessive, intelligence funds due to presidential state visits abroad.


Drilon uncovered that part of the misuse of intelligence funds during the Arroyo administration was liquidation by certification, wherein the head of a particular agency or state firm has the sole jurisdiction of how the money would be spent as his part review in 2011 outlay.


The 2010 budget carries P1.380 billion as intelligence funds, while the proposed 2011 budget indicates P1.425 billion as intelligence funds. The total intelligence fund does not include intelligence funds allocated by local government units and in the corporate operating budgets of state enterprises.


Drilon want to clear an entire picture on how much would be the intelligence fund of the entire government structure. He suspected that this is being abuse, pointing out that this has been manipulating and everybody are now under the rubric of an intelligence fund would be allowed to liquidate this by mere certification.


During the time of former President Arroyo, she kept P650-million intelligence fund in her proposed P1.541-trillion 2010 national budget wherein the budget documents submitted by Malacañang to the House of Representatives show that the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PACC), which the President heads, will have a budget of P535.2 million.

P500 million would be for confidential and intelligence expenses in that amount, adding that
the remaining P35.2 million would be for personnel, equipment, and maintenance and operating expenditures. The Office of the President has an additional P150 million also for confidential and intelligence expenses.

It could be remembered that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said that to help reduce the cost of running government, President Benigno Aquino III can give up his intelligence fund and distribute the money to other agencies where he pointed out that the Office of the President had no allocation for an intelligence fund until then President Joseph Estrada formed the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) with a budget of P400 million a year more than a decade ago. (Jason de Asis)