THE Office of President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to double its confidential and intelligence funds based on the proposed 2020 budget spending plan submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The National Expenditure Program for fiscal year 2020 uploaded on the DBM's official website showed that the Office of the President's (OP) proposed confidential and intelligence expenses for 2020 amount to P2.25 billion each, higher than the P1.25 billion each requested in 2018 and 2019.
The total amount sought by Duterte's office for the confidential and intelligence expenses is P4.5 billion, which is double the P2.25 billion in the two preceding years.
The proposed funds for the OP's confidential and intelligence activities are way higher than the P250 million each for confidential and intelligence funds granted to Duterte's predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III, for the 2016 spending program.
In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is nothing wrong with the sharp increase because the hefty funds would allow Duterte's office to "secure the country."
"Eh dapat naman sa Office of the President (The Office of the President needs that). It has to have resources to determine 'yung mga threats against the state. Kailangan 'yun (That's needed) and you need money for that," the Palace official said.
"Aba'y talagang mahirap mag-secure sa isang bansa. Kailangan mo talaga ng pera. You need people, you need machines, technology. Maraming pagga-gastusan (It's really difficult to secure a country. You really need money. You need people, you need machines, technology. You need to spend lots of money)," he added.
Panelo, however, admitted that he was not privy to the reason for the increase.
But basing it on "common sense," the Palace official said the OP is one of the "better" offices to ensure peace and security in the country.
Pressed as to why not just allot the proposed funds to other departments, Panelo said: "Eh para makatulong doon sa mga department. Iisa lang naman 'yan. They are still within the Office of the President. Lahat sila. Ano bang problema doon?"
(It will help other departments. They are under the President's office. They are still within the Office of the President. All of them. What's the probem with that?)
"The President is not exempted from accountability, if you are talking about accountabilities. Lahat na mayroon hawak ng pera (All departments who have funds) are required by law to account so I don't think there's a problem with that," he added.
Panelo also allayed concerns that the funds would be used for corrupt activities.
"The Office of the President is one of the better offices that can secure the security of the land," he said.
"Malabo 'yun 'pag Office ng President because number one si Presidente nga na ayaw ng corruption eh. Napaka-strikto ni Presidente (It's impossible that corruption will happen in the Office of the President because the President does not want corruption. The President is very strict)," Panelo added. (SunStar Philippines)