IN WHAT could be considered a first, Zamboanga Sibugay Governor Wilter Palma returned intelligence funds back to the Treasury to set an example to other governors.
“I am the only sitting governor who was able to open my intelligence fund by returning it to the general fund,” Governor Wilter Palma told the participants of the first Regional Advisory Council Summit of the Philippine National Police (PNP) held March 15 to 16 in Ipil, the capital town of Zamboanga Sibugay.
The governor’s office is entitled to P40 million as its intelligence fund. It is smaller in towns and cities.
In a statement read during the summit, Palma claimed he is the first and only governor of the country to have done it. There are 81 governors in the entire Philippines.
Unlike all other local chief executives who keep the utilization of their intelligence fund confidential, Palma said, it is entirely different in his case.
The governor’s statement has yet to be verified with the Provincial Treasurer’s Office. But a source in his office, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak, said the governor has indeed made his intelligence fund public.
When asked if the governor’s action is setting a precedent, the same source said “yes, he is setting an example.”
When pressed further to comment if the governor is also compromising the security of the province by opening the uses of his intelligence fund, the source begged not to answer saying “only the governor can answer” the question.
Palma has encouraged the Provincial Police Office to avail the opportunity to have the intelligence be utilized to augment the logistical and operational requirements of the police.
“All what is needed is a proposal that details how and where the fund be used,” he said, adding that the subsequent implementations should satisfy the requirements of the government’s procurement law.
The confidentiality of the use of the intelligence fund has been a challenge for the Commission on Audit (COA).
Public officials are not required to disclose how they use the funds except that this is intended for the peace and order programs of its area.