The national government on Tuesday (August 23) requested Congress for a P2.31 billion budget for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) headed by Sara Duterte, P500 million of which is for confidential expenses.
This was done through the National Expenditure Program (NEP) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). It is a prerequisite to the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which is eventually passed to the President for the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Confidential expenses, according to the Commission on Audit (COA), are “expenses pertaining/related to surveillance activities in civilian government agencies that are intended to support the mandate or operations of the agency.”
Some examples for the usage of these funds include but are not limited to:
Purchasing of information for peace and order
Renting of transport vehicles for confidential activities
Renting of safehouses
Purchasing of supplies needed for confidential operations that cannot be done through “regular procedures” without it being compromised
Payment of rewards to informants
Prevention of illegal activities considered dangerous to the agency
In every start of the Fiscal Year that former Vice President Leni Robredo reached during her term, there was never an allocation for confidential expenses.
Additionally, there is an allocation for land outlay and transportation equipment outlay worth P10 million. Under the previous vice presidential term, there was never an amount set for land outlay.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a proposed amount of P4.5 billion was set for confidential and intelligence expenses, combined. P2.25 billion was allotted for each expense, an amount 4.5 times larger than OVP’s proposed confidential expenses, and had a value straight off the 2022 GAA of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
Meanwhile, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), which served as the national referral center for COVID-19 cases, faces a potential P893 million budget cut.
Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.
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