Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said confidential funds should be restricted to government agencies that can demonstrate accountability in their use.
“Ang dapat meron lang may intelligence, confidential, at discretionary funds ay y’ung talagang may one-on-one correspondence and accountability sa paggamit nito,” the independent senator told reporters in an interview on November 10, 2023 in the City of Taguig.
Cayetano, who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs under then-President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017-2018, said one such government agency is the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) which has confidential funds but can justify their use to whoever makes an inquiry, including the media.
“DFA is all about diplomacy. Maraming lunch, maraming dinner. Pwede mo namang ilagay as regular (funds) pero mas madali kasing i-liquidate kung nakalagay sa discretionary funds,” he said.
“So halimbawa, may nilalakad tayong mapakawalan na OFW na nakakulong sa Middle East at ang ginagawa natin ay panay ang ating pa-lunch at pa-dinner sa mga diplomat sa ibang bansa. You can have a regular fund na klaro but you can also liquidate it with your discretionary fund. Y’un lang, mas may paliwanagan y’un,” he said.
“So kapag may nagtanong na media na, ‘Sir, bakit ka gumastos ng $1,000 na pa-dinner sa ganito?’ i-explain mo lang,” he added.
Cayetano said another use of confidential funds is as reward for information in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs in which the names of informants have to remain anonymous to keep them safe.
“Halimbawa sa drugs, pwede ka namang magbigay ng reward na na-a-account. Ibig sabihin, ang nakalagay lang ‘Mister X ang nakakuha ng P100,000’ pero may papeles ka. Sampung kilo ng shabu ang nahuli dahil sa sumbong ni ‘Mister X,’” he said.
Cayetano said the problem with confidential funds is that some local governments units (LGUs) can misuse them. Some have huge amounts for peace and order but have the same result as other LGUs with lower allocations.
“I-compare niyo halimbawa sa Taguig, Parañaque, at Muntinlupa. Napakaganda ba ng peace and order nila compared diyan? Kasi kung hindi, pera din ‘yan na pwedeng gamitin sa classroom, pera din ‘yan na pwedeng gamitin sa pabahay,” he said.
“I’m not saying i-zero niyo y’ung sa mayor, but I’m saying ridiculous naman y’ung 200, 300, 500 million pesos samantalang ni hindi makabili ng isang kilong bigas ang marami nating kababayan,” he added.