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DBM: Marcos’ P1.4-B proposed budget for trips ‘justified’

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman on Thursday said that the more than P1.4 billion allocation for the Office of the President's local and foreign missions as well as state visits for next year is justified.

At a Palace briefing, Pangandaman was asked about the increase in the budget for President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s foreign trips for 2024.

She said there is nothing wrong with the proposed P1,408,894,000 for these trips, especially if these will be beneficial for the country.

"'Yung travel po ng Presidente, dalawa pong klase 'yan (There are two types of travels of the President). Mayroon pong state visit that they invite you and then meron din po 'yung mga investment roadshow. When I was asked previously po doon sa SONA kung ano po sa tingin ko ang nagawa this administration in such a short time, I think to bring us back to the map of a investment hub and opportunity for other countries," Pangandaman said.

"Kami po hindi lang ang Presidente, even the economic managers, if you will notice po, we've been going out of the country to present the Philippines as an investment hub po so I think 'yung expenses po ng travel as long as it will be beneficial and mas may advantage po para sa bansa natin, I think okay lang po 'yun, it's justified (I think the travel expenses as long as it will be beneficial and advantageous for the country, it's okay and it's justified.)," she added.

In 2022, Marcos went on state visits to Indonesia, Singapore, and China; attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York; and participated in the ASEAN summit in Cambodia.

Marcos was also in Thailand last November for the APEC 2022 and in Brussels, Belgium for the EU-ASEAN Summit.

The President also traveled to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum and had an official visit to Tokyo, Japan this year. Marcos had secured $1.3 billion worth of investment pledges during his official visit to the United States in May.

He also attended the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia as well as a state visit in Malaysia.

The Department of Trade and Industry said earlier that $88 million in investments from Marcos' foreign trips would materialize this year.

Marcos has since defended his trips abroad, saying that this will attract more foreign investors for the Philippines.

Intel, confidential funds

Aside from the budget for foreign trips, a total of P9.2 billion has been allocated for confidential and intelligence funds across government agencies for the fiscal year 2024, Pangandaman said on Wednesday.

The OP is specifically asking for a P4,560,000 for its confidential and intelligence expenses, the NEP 2024 showed.

Pangandaman explained that there is a P120 million increase for the total amount of confidential and intelligence funds because of the additional allocation for the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Presidential Security Group, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council

"Meron pong increase na P120 million (There's a P120 million increase) for the confidential and the intelligence funds, 'yung increase po is because mayroon pong dagdag na confidential funds for the following agencies (the increase is because of the additional funds for the following agencies): DICT, and then there's also an amount for Anti-Money Laundering Council and my increase din po sa confidential funds ng PSG and DICT," Pangandaman said. 

The Budget chief noted that the confidential and intelligence fund is also at a "decreasing trend," citing its percentage of share in the national budget in the previous years:

  • 0.215%  - 2018
  • 0.192%  - 2019
  • 0.235%  - 2020
  • 0.212% - 2021
  • 0.183% - 2022
  • 0.190% - 2023
  • 0.176% - 2024

"It's the lowest po doon sa time series natin. Ibig sabihin po, 'yung share po niya doon sa kabuuang budget natin (it means its share for the entire budget), if you look at it, it's P10 billion, it's actually decreasing naman po," she explained. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News