Nueva Ecija governor defend P40-M intelligence fund in the proposed 2011 budget

By Jason de Asis


PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, November 5, 2010–At least P40 million worth of intelligence funds in the proposed 2011 budget of the provincial government being reviewed for approval by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan was defended its allocation by Gov. Aurelio Umali saying it’s in accordance with the law.


In reaction to the allocation of the controversial intelligence funds, the governor said that the funds included in the yearly budget of the Capitol are always in conformity with existing laws, saying the law provides for a certain leeway for intelligence operations of local government units.


“Offices are allowed intelligence funds and in our case, we allocate funds in accordance with law,” he told newsmen by phone.


According to the copy obtained by newsmen, the governor will get P40.8 million as intelligence expenses under the item maintenance and operating expenses for 2011 into the programmed appropriation and obligation of the Governor’s Office of the proposed 2011 annual budget of the province transmitted by provincial administrator Alejandro Abesamis.


The intelligence funds represent 45 % of the entire P89.48 million proposed budget at the Governor’s Office for the coming year which is bigger than the proposed budgets of the Guimba District Hospital and the Sto. Domingo District Hospital.


Intelligence funds are normally source of controversy in the annual budgets because these are not subject to audit. Umali obtained P38.8 million worth of intelligence funds in the 2010 budget from zero budget in 2009.


Board Member Joseph Ortiz, chairman of the SP’s committee on finance and appropriations also defended the P40-million intelligence fund, saying that this was meant to give teeth to the provincial government’s campaign against illegal drugs.


Ortiz explained that part of the funds will go for the operations of the inter-agency anti-illegal drugs task force of the provincial government and the activation of the barangay anti-drug abuse council.


He said that since many agencies are involved, the provincial government will need all the funds it can gather to start the campaign against illegal drugs, adding that the governor’s intelligence fund is not exactly meant for his own use alone but also for the task force, not to mention funds for trainings and seminars of the task force members,” he said. 


Umali’s office also sought P1.2 million as confidential expenses in the same amount it earmarked for the current year. Last year, the Governor’s Office had P21.2 million in confidential expenses.


Also, P2.5 million was proposed as “extraordinary expenses,” the same amount it had for 2010. Last year, the Governor’s Office spent P2.27 million for extraordinary expenditures.


The proposed budget, which was reviewed by provincial budget officer Randolph Alingig before being transmitted to the pro-Umali SP for its own review and approval , also set aside P7 million for payment of Capitol consultants, P2.3 million for advertisements and P2 million for “other maintenance and operating expenses.” Umali’s office also plans to spend P20 million for fuel.


In the budget proposal, P9 million was set aside for personal services of the Governor’s Office covering salaries and wages of regular employees, honoraria, longevity pay, cash gift, year-end bonus, Pag-ibig and Philhealth contributions among others. Next year’s P6-million salary package is P1 million higher than the P4.9 million set aside for this year’s budget.

The proposed 2011 budget also allocated P3 million as representation expenses, P500,000 for extra supplies and P250,000 for local travels while earmarking a zero budget for foreign trips.


The proposed budget of the Governor’s Office, including the P40-million intelligence funds, are expected to be passed by the SP without any hitches since majority of the board members are Umali’s trusted allies.


Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos, SP presiding officer, vowed to have the province’s annual budget passed by December. The province’s annual budgets for 2008 and 2009 were not passed, resulting in a re-enacted budget due to the intramurals involving the provincial government and the SP then led by the governor’s rival, former vice governor Edward Thomas Joson.


Joson challenged Umali’s reelection bid last May but lost by landslide.


The annual budget of Umali’s office ballooned to P86 million in 2010, twice its P43.1 million budget in 2009.  (Jason de Asis)