By LLANESCA T. PANTI, GMA Integrated News
The House of Representatives agrees that confidential funds should be used to promote peace and security and these have been realigned to agencies “best suited in these aspects,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said on Thursday.
At a news conference following a trip to Pag-asa Island, Romualdez was asked for his comment as regards Vice President Sara Duterte who said those against confidential funds were against peace and were enemies of the nation.
“We are in total agreement that the utilization of confidential funds is to promote peace and security. That is why we are in Pag-asa island today and looking at other ways to make sure that the peace and security of the country as a whole is protected,” Romualdez said.
“The West Philippine Sea is the top issue of the day…there are incidents of incursions, incidents with our fisherfolk… We would like to make sure that the confidential fund and intelligence funds are most properly utilized by agencies and departments that are best suited in these aspects,” Romualdez said.
“We are one with the Vice President in making sure that CIF are always part of the equation and are best left with agencies and departments that are best suited. It is a matter of prioritizing,” he added.
Romualdez indicated that there was no politics involved in the realignment of the confidential funds initially allocated to the OVP and the Department of Education, which Duterte also heads as secretary.
“That is too much speculation… People are reading too much into it. What happened is a natural progression during the budget briefings,” Romualdez said.
“We felt it is the right thing to do, and the Vice President said she could live without it and leave it to the sound discretion of Congress,” he added.
“Under the circumstances, we felt it best that it should go to the agencies and departments best suited for it,” Romualdez said.
Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, a vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriation, backed Romualdez, saying that the realignment of P4.8 billion worth of confidential funds across agencies under the proposed P5.768 trillion budget for 2024 would ensure the proper use of government resources.
“Hindi naman po masyadong malaki ‘yan. So as we realign that at kung kailangan pa ng dagdag na tulong sa Pag-asa Island, we need additional resources,” Quimbo said.
(That’s not too big. So as we realign that and if we need more assistance for Pag-asa Island, we need additional resources.)
“To the best our ability, sinusubukan naming itama ang pag-grant ng CIF,” she added.
(To the best of our ability, we ae trying to trying correct the grant of CIF.)
“Tinitignan namin alin sa mga civilian agencies ang nangangailangan nitong CIFs para maperform nila ang mandato nila and at the same time, tinatapyasan, tatanggalan ang mga ahensiya na sa tingin namin ay hindi talaga kailangan ng CIF sa pagperform ng mandato nila,” she added.
(We are looking at which civilian agencies need CIFs so they can perform their mandate and at the same we remove from agencies which we think don’t need the CIF to perform their mandate.)
“We apply general principles as uniformly as possible,” Quimbo said. —NB, GMA Integrated News