Bersamin defends OP’s proposed P4.5-B confidential, intel funds


Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on Wednesday defended the proposed P4.5 billion for confidential and intelligence funds of the Office of the President for fiscal year 2023.

During the Senate finance committee hearing on the proposed P9,031,722,000 budget of the OP, Bersamin explained that the present administration retained the confidential and intelligence funds allotted for the OP during the past administration as he emphasized the need to be flexible with the budget to be "responsive to the requirements of international and domestic security."

"We have adopted a whole of nation approach in respect of our security arrangements as well as our concern for internal as well as international security and this whole of nation approach requires us to have some flexibility..." Bersamin said.

"We have not increased too much what the last administration had as far as this CIF is concerned, we just had replicated it and the reason there is probably that in a post-pandemic world, we would need a higher response or we need to be more responsive to the requirements of international and domestic security," he said.

"We are not yet into that time when we can view it in the way most sectors of our society view it but it is not a simple view that we have about this. We want to be ready whenever there will be these exigencies that will arise so minaintain na lang po namin 'yung amount ng CIF that was in effect under the former administration," Bersamin added.

It was Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III who inquired why the confidential and intelligence funds of the previous administration were retained as he asked if this is consistent with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s 2022-2028 medium-term fiscal framework (MTFF).


"Ang napansin ko lang (what I notice), P4.5 (billion) of this will be confidential and intelligence funds, that's almost 50% or close to 50%... why did we maintain, ES, the level of the former administration's confidential and intelligence funds?" Pimentel said.

"Puwede naman tayo (we can)... because the President has a medium-term fiscal framework, ang daming mga konseptong magaganda doon, pinagusapan namin ni Chairman 'yun sa floor ng Senado eh (there's a lot of good concepts there, we have talked about that in the plenary), fiscal consolidation, mayroon pa doong growth-inducing expenditure, mga ganoon ba? So, if we maintain a P4.5 billion confidential and intelligence funds in a single office, are we being consistent with that office's medium statement of a medium-term fiscal framework?" Pimentel added.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Hubert Guevara, for his part, said the budget was retained in pursuit as well of the said framework.

The present administration designed the 2022-2028 MTFF to attain short-term macro-fiscal stability while remaining supportive of the economic recovery and promoting medium-term fiscal sustainability.

"To address po that question, while I agree that the President has these plans, it should not also distract us from the fact that the confidential and intelligence funds are much-needed in pursuit of these plans as well," Guevara said.

The NEP states that intelligence expenses are those related to intelligence information gathering activities of uniformed and military personnel as well as intelligence practitioners that have direct impact to national security.

Confidential expenses refer to those related to surveillance activities in civilian government agencies that are intended to support the mandate or operations of the agency. — RSJ, GMA News