Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said the government must rationalize the use of intelligence and confidential funds and commit to overseeing their use so that every centavo would produce results.
“Every single centavo is hard earned money for Filipinos. Every single centavo should produce a result. If the intel and confidential funds give us less crime, more security, better information, then good. If it does not, may problema tayo,” the independent senator told reporters at a press briefing on September 15, 2023.
Cayetano said one of the reasons for the public’s distrust on the use of intelligence and confidential funds is that only the Commission on Audit (COA) can see how they are used.
“Dahil hindi natin kita, we have to rely on their word so nagkakaroon ng pagdududa. What we have to admit today is that we are relying on the trustworthiness n’ung may hawak ng fund. Right now the distrust comes from the fact that it’s only the COA who will open it, at nagiging basis natin y’ung trustworthy ng person,” he said.
Cayetano said one way to ensure accountability on the funds is for the government to have a small oversight committee to look after it.
“For me, magkaroon lang [dapat] ng way to rationalize it at magkaroon ng information like ano ang limits mo. One way of doing that is to have a select committee oversight on intelligence,” he said.
‘Walang personalan’ on confidential funds
Asked for his take on the Office of the President’s transfer of P125 million to the Office of the Vice President, Cayetano said he is looking forward to asking about it during the budget hearing in the Senate.
“I am sure mauunahan ako, but many senators will ask that question kasi pare-pareho kami ng knowledge na kapag walang item, you cannot augment it. We’ll wait for the budget hearing here in the Senate to ask that question,” he said.
On this issue, he said what matters more to him is whether the act violated the budget rules or not.
“I’ll just depoliticize it. It doesn’t matter to me if it was intel funds, bridge, or if it was for buying computers. The point is, did we violate our own accounting and budgeting rules? To be fair, Budget Secretary (Amenah) Pangandaman is always very forthcoming and deliberative. I read lang today ‘yung letter niya kay House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Zaldy Co,” he said.
According to media reports, Pangandaman in her letter said the release of funds to the OVP was technically not a transfer since it was funded from Contingent Fund under the fiscal year 2022General Appropriations Act and not from the budget of the OP.
On civilian departments like the Department of Education having their own intelligence funds, Cayetano said he will reiterate his stand last year.
“Ang stand ko last year was to give the intel fund to the Office of the Vice President especially if may usapan sila ng Presidente on issues regarding security… But if you give the Department of Education intel funds, you should give all departments,” he said.
“So my personal stand is walang personalan. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he added.###