THE Senate has denied the request of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for a confidential and intelligence fund (CIF) worth P300 million.
The Senate ended on Tuesday dawn, November 21, 2023, the plenary deliberations on the proposed 2024 national budget.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the nine-day marathon sessions to tackle the P5.768-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 ended at 4:42 a.m.
During the debate for the proposed budget for DICT, Senator Grace Poe, who sponsored the agency’s budget, said they opted to realign the P280 million, supposedly for CIF, to regular line-item.
“So, when COA (Commission on Audit) does its audit, they will be able to point out what the functions are of the equipment that was purchased. So, we just made it a line item,” Poe said in response to the query of Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Poe said the remaining P20 million was totally removed.
Poe said P72.3 million out of the P280 million were allocated for the procurement of devices to enable National Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT) among all government agencies; P48.2 million for the security of operations software; P79.7 million for advanced anti-virus systems; P19.8 million for the manpower who will monitor the National Security Operations Center control 24/7; P20 million for the vulnerability assessment and penetration testing tools, which consist of application analysis, website analysis, and mobile application analysis; and P40 million for the Mobile Security Operation Center, which consists of portable and software.
The DICT was among the five government agencies, aside from the Office of the Vice President (OVP), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), that the House of Representatives stripped of CIF as they opted to allocate the funds to government agencies in charge of addressing concerns in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) amid the aggression of China.
DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy earlier noted the importance of confidential funds to boost the country’s cyber space security especially amid the series of hacking of government websites.
Earlier in the budget debates at the Senate, Senator Sonny Angara also announced that the OVP and DepEd, both under Vice President Sara Duterte, had dropped their bid for CIF allocation.
The CIF allocation for the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice were also slashed.
After the deliberation, Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, will introduce amendments to the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for the approval for the second and third reading.
The upper and lower chamber of Congress will then meet to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of their respective versions of the National Expenditures Program for 2024.
The reconciled version will then be sent to the Office of the President for approval.
The proposed P5.768-trillion budget for next year is 9.5 percent higher than the FY 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and 21.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Under Malacañang's version of the proposed budget, almost 70 percent is allocated for economic and social service, 29.6 percent and 37.9 percent, respectively, while the rest are allocated for general public services at 15.5 percent, debt burden 12.1 percent, and defense 4.9 percent.
The education sector will get a higher budget for next year at P924.7 billion, public works at P822.2 billion, health at P306.1 billion and transportation with P214.3 billion. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)