Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday said the granting of confidential funds to government agencies has become a form of political accommodation.
She also urged Congress to limit allocating confidential funds to civilian agencies.
Responding to reporters’ query on confidential funds and political accommodations, Hontiveros said: “Yes, unfortunately, our politics has become very personalistic. We are very much lacking in programmatic or party-based politics. I mean, if there were more genuine political parties, we can better exercise fiscal discipline.”
Hontiveros earlier said with the government’s limited resources, confidential funds should only be for agencies that have intelligence mandates.
“There should indeed be a value for money and for every peso and cent, which is the responsibility of the government,” Hontiveros said as she aired her concern over the P500 million confidential funds being sought by Vice President Sara Duterte under the 2024 proposed national budget.
Aside from the CIF for the Office of the Vice President, Duterte is also asking for P150 million in confidential funds for the Department of Education which she also heads.
Both the proposed confidential funds for the OVP and the DepEd are larger than the proposed P101 million confidential budget of the Department of National Defense for next year.
She said the giving of confidential funds to the OVP should be based “on science and logic.”
“And the science has to be based on our laws, based on the experiences of previous budgets. Even if we look at the former Vice Presidents–from (Gloria Macapatal-Arroyo) GMA, Jejomar Binay, and Leni Robredo—where the requested funds are small compared to P500 million,” she said.
She also said there’s need to rationalize the confidential funds.
The House Committee on Appropriations headed by Ako-Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co meanwhile is all set for the plenary debates today on the proposed P5.768-trillion budget for 2024.
Co is expected to sponsor in plenary House Bill 8980, or the 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) which had already been approved at the committee level last week.
Co reiterated the committee’s commitment to facilitate a thorough and transparent budget process.
The committee hearings on the proposed 2024 national budget started on August 10 and succeeded on schedule. Co said the House leadership aims to complete plenary debates by September 27.
He added the public can expect comprehensive debates on specific elements of departmental appropriations for the upcoming plenary sessions.
Co likewise assured the public that the House Committee on Appropriations is well-prepared to take on the multifaceted and important task of national budget deliberations. With Maricel V. Cruz