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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Senators hail President’s CIF report

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Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) report of the Office of the President (OP) is “one of the most detailed and comprehensive” reports that he has ever seen.

Zubiri said aside from the Office of the Senate President, the office of House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez was also provided with.

He noted that the report was in two books detailing  each and every disbursement and that the report was “complete.” 

Zubiri said for example, the report showed an anti-drug case and traced the case from the tipster to the actual filing of the case, which is now ongoing.

Senator Sonny Angara, who defended the budget of the OP, echoed Zubiri’s observations, saying the report showed where the budget has been spent.

The OP has earlier said it will seek a P2.25-billion confidential fund and a P2.3-billion intelligence fund.

Vice President Sara Duterte earlier said her office would no longer pursue its request for P500 million in confidential funds in next year’s budget.

The House of Representatives last month said it would redistribute confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) originally allotted to civilian agencies such as the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the DepEd to agencies that deal directly with national security issues such as the Philippine Coast Guard and the military.

At the time, Duterte branded those who opposed the P650 million in CIF

for her agencies as “enemies of the state” and her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte threatened a lawmaker, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, and branded her a communist.

But on Thursday, the OVP’s budget sponsor, Angara, made the same announcement that the Vice President did during a budget deliberation.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III commended the Vice President, but Castro said her latest statement would not erase the questions hounding her office.

“The only reason why the OVP issued such a statement is because the abuse of the confidential fund has been exposed to the public,” said Castro, who filed a criminal case of grave threats against the Vice President’s father, the former president.

Castro also questioned why Duterte’s statement did not include the DepEd in her statement.

She said Duterte should be clear about what she intends to do about the DepEd’s request for confidential funds.

Senator Pia Cayetano, however, said during a Senate deliberation on the DepEd’s budget that Duterte had also issued a statement that she would no longer seek confidential funds for this agency as well.

Castro, meanwhile, pressed for an explanation from the OVP on how the P125 million in confidential funds in 2022 were used.

It was Castro who earlier said Duterte spent P125 million in confidential funds in the last days of December 2022, citing documents from the Department of Budget and Management and the OVP.

Similarly, Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo, senior vice chair of the House committee on appropriations, disclosed during budget deliberations at the House in September that the P125 million in confidential funds allocated to the OVP by the Office of the President (OP) was spent in 11 days, and not in 19, citing information from the Commission on Audit.

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