The Palace on Thursday allayed fears that the billions-worth of intelligence and surveillance funds in the proposed 2020 national budget under the Office of the President will be lost to corruption.
The confidential and intelligence expenses for the OP is at P2.25 billion each, according to the budget proposal submitted to lawmakers Wednesday.
This is P1 billion higher than the said expenses requested by the administration for the past two consecutive years.
Corruption, said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, is impossible for OP because the Chief Executive “doesn’t like” it and is “very strict.”
“The Office of the President has to have resources to determine threats against the state. That’s needed. It’s difficult to secure a country. You need people, you need machines, technology,” Panelo told reporters in a news conference.
“I’ll be using my common sense by saying that you really need money if you want to secure your country. And the Office of the President is one of the better offices that can secure the security of the land,” he added.
In the 2016 proposed budget, former President Benigno Aquino III retained his P500-million intelligence fund and confidential fund during his last term in office.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education has received the highest budget among all executive departments since 2015.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia called on the 18th Congress to pass the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget on time so as not to hamper economic growth.
Pernia made the appeal to lawmakers as the House committee on appropriations, chaired by Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab, which kicked off the deliberations on the 2020 budget.
Pernia said the country’s economic growth slowed down in the first half of 2019 because of the delayed passage of this year’s national budget.
“After the country experienced the detrimental effects of delays in the passage of the GAA, members of the minority are committed to doing what is in the best interests of the Filipino, which includes passing the national budget on time,” he said.
“That is why we are hoping for the timely passage of the 2020 national budget so as not to derail next year’s economic growth,” Pernia said.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader and Manila 6th District Rep. Benny Abante Jr. on
Thursday said members of the Minority would balance their duty as “fiscalizers” with the need to pass the proposed PHP 4.1 trillion 2020 budget on time.
“The Minority will thoroughly scrutinize the National Expenditure Plan (NEP) while balancing the need to pass the General Appropriations Act
(GAA) promptly in order not to delay the delivery of services to the people... because we in the Minority recognize that fulfilling our duties to properly examine and thoroughly comb through the items of the proposed NEP is just as important as the timely passage of the GAA,” Abante said following calls from the country’s economic managers for Congress to pass the proposed 2020 budget on time to ensure economic growth.
“We need at least 6.4 percent of economic growth for the second half of the year to meet our target of 6 percent in 2019,” he said.
Abante said the House Minority shared the NEDA chief’s sentiments.
Abante said the Minority will be guided with the policy of “sa tamang panahon, sa tamang pamamaraan, at para sa tamang prayoridad (the right time, the right way, the right priorities).”
“We will endeavor to work with our colleagues from the Majority to pass the National Budget at the right time, commit to do it the right way, and work to ensure that our financial resources are allocated for the right priorities,” Abante said.
Abante also reiterated that the Minority bloc had agreed with their counterparts in the Majority that grandstanding would be discouraged, highlighting the need to devote more time in addressing legitimate, relevant budget allocation and implementation issues.
“The formula, in our minds, is simple: quality deliberations plus quality time is equal to a quality GAA,” Abante said.
For the legislator, nothing is more important than a properly allocated and appropriately prioritized GAA, as this can be an instrument that can literally transform the lives of the Filipino people.
“This is why we in Congress have a very important obligation to seriously examine and vet the NEP so we can ensure that there is sufficient funding for the programs and projects that will benefit our countrymen,” he said.
“So this is the Minority’s message: let us help each other, let us debate with each other, if necessary. But let us never forget that at
the end of the long days we will commit to this process, we are all here for one purpose and to serve one master: the Filipino People,” Abante said. With PNA