House appropriations committee chairman Isidro Ungab defended the PHP4.5 billion worth of confidential and intelligence funds in the budget of the Office of the President (OP) for 2020.
During the plenary deliberation on the OP’s proposed PHP8.2-billion budget for 2020, Ungab stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte, as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, needs the resources to adapt to the ever-changing threats to national security.
Ungab said the confidential and intelligence funds will be used for the administration’s intensified war against drugs, criminality, insurgency, and terrorism, among others.
“The President, as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, needs intelligence and confidential information in the performance of his duty in order to effectively, efficiently, and precisely plan all intensified efforts to suppress threats against national security, terrorism, campaign against illegal drugs, insurgency and transnational crimes,” Ungab said.
“I think it is only proper and fitting that we provide the amount as requested by the Office of the President in order for the OP to be able to deliver effectively and efficiently the needs of the country,” he added.
Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite questioned the “unprecedented” 400-percent increase in the intelligence and confidential funds, which he said comprised more than half of the entire OP 2020 budget.
Ungab, however, disagreed that the magnitude of the increase is “unprecedented”, considering that the confidential and intelligence requirements are based on the “coordinated and integrated intelligence estimates” of local and foreign situations for the formulation of the national policies of the President.
He noted that there are complicated situations now in the field that would require “gargantuan tasks” in order to prevent such threats from arising.
“There are a lot of developments and we believe that we have to give the much-needed resources to the Office of the President in order to meet these present exigencies,” Ungab said.
“As the government plans ahead with its foresight and with its proper military police planning, the insidious forces are also planning another kind of approach. So the President must be updated, abreast, and I believe we should grant this request,” he added.
The plenary debates on the OP’s budget were terminated after almost an hour of interpellation from members of the Makabayan bloc.
The OP’s 2020 budget increased by PHP1.5 billion compared to the PHP6.7 billion allocated for this year.
In its proposed PHP4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, the OP gets a PHP8.2-billion budget which consists of PHP6.7 billion for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), PHP1.1 billion for personnel services and PHP427 million for capital outlay.
Of the OP’s PHP6.7 billion MOOE budget, the office allocated PHP4.5 billion for confidential and intelligence funds. (PNA)
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