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Senate version realigns P152-M confidential funds to MOOE


The Senate has adopted the realignment of at least P152  million worth of confidential funds  of various government agencies to their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) in the 2023 national budget.

This developed as the chamber approved the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 on third and final reading with 21 affirmative votes Wednesday afternoon.

"Pinakinggan din natin ang mga naiisip ng ating mga kasamahan dulot ng maiinit na isyu at dahil dito naglipat po tayo ng ilang halaga mula sa confidential funds para malagay sa MOOE ng ibang ahensya," Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said in plenary.

Angara is the chairman of Senate finance panel and sponsor of the national budget.

The confidential funds that were realigned to MOOE are:

  • P100 million from the Department of Education 
  • P5 million in the Department of Foreign Affairs
  • P19.2 million in the Department of Justice
  • P2 million in the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
  • P6 million in other executive offices
  • P20 million in Office of the Ombudsman

"[These are realigned] all within the agency because we did not want to deprive the office of their budgets but placed under MOOE," Angara said.

During the period of individual amendments, Senator Risa Hontiveros proposed to transfer the P100 million confidential funds, which the Senate panel realigned to the OVP, back to the DepEd and use it as funds for the agency's Health Learners Institution Program.

Angara accepted Hontiveros' proposal.

The deputy minority lawmaker also pushed for the realignment of the remaining P50 million confidential funds of the DepEd to the agency's Health Learners Institution Program.

Instead of rejecting Hontiveros' proposal, Angara suggested reducing the remaining P50 million DepEd confidential funds to P30 million and realign the P20 million to the program that the minority senator has mentioned.

Since Angara did not entirely approve her amendment, Hontiveros proposed to include a special provision in the budget measure which will compel the DepEd to create a work plan on the use of their confidential funds and submit it to both houses of Congress.

Angara accepted Hontiveros' proposed amendment.

With this, the P150 million confidential funds requested by DepEd is now reduced to P30 million.

Still, Hontiveros manifested her continuing objection to the propriety of confidential funds to agencies that are not involved in national security.

"Mayroon po tayong mga ahensya na mas nangangailangan ng pondo para sa surveillance at ibang programa para sa seguridad ng bansa katulad ng ating adbokasiya para sugpuin ang human trafficking at online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC)," she said.

"Let me reiterate that we should leave these dangerous tasks to the professionals. Dagdag pa po diyan, all public funds should always be subject to audit dapat alam natin kung saan napupunta ang kaban ng bayan at kung sulit ba ang paglalaan ng ganito kalaking pondo sa isang ahensya dahil tens of millions are still tens of millions. And the exceptions to this must be very, very strict. Panata po natin iyan sa mamamayan," she added.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III also proposed to prohibit the use of savings to augment intelligence funds as provided under the general provisions of the 2023 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

However, this proposed amendment was rejected by Angara.

Further, Angara accepted the proposed amendment introduced by Senator Jinggoy Estrada which seeks to realign P23 million from the Optical Media Board's budget to the Film Development Council of the Philippines.—AOL/LDF/NB, GMA Integrated News

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