MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations have debunked claims that Congress has confidential funds (CF) worth about P1.6 billion. They say that these fall under extraordinary expenses and therefore do not belong to the same category.
During a press conference on Tuesday, panel chairman and Ako Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co, and Senior Vice Chair and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo that although the funds were presented in the same category, they are different in nature, as extraordinary expenses are “fully auditable”.
“It is fair that Congress’s confidential funds are wala pong. “There is £1.6 billion in extraordinary expenditure,” Quimbo said.
‘Kasi can be confidential, intelligent and extraordinary. So magkaiba po ‘yong confidential dun sa extraordinary.’ Yong extraordinary can be completely controllable. That is different from confidential and ang Congress ay wala po no’ng confidential,” she added.
According to Quimbo, extraordinary resources are comparable to funds used for emergencies or unforeseen circumstances.
“Yong extraordinary costs during emergencies, so that’s an example of extraordinary costs. ‘Yon pong kakaiba po, parang gano’n,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Co said it is blatantly fake news.
“Hindi siya confidential,” said Majority Leader and Zamboanga Second District Representative Manuel Jose Dalipe.
“In short, that’s fake news,” Co added.
Discussions on confidential funds allegedly submitted to Congress came after blogger and international relations expert Sass Rogando Sasot claimed that P1.6 billion of the country’s proposed P5.768 trillion funds for 2024 is the CF of the legislative power.
Sasot asked lawmakers why they weren’t paying attention to such funding.
Earlier, the House Small Committee formally decided to remove funds from various civilian agencies such as the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd), and instead reallocate them to agencies involved in securing the West Philippine Sea.
Asked whether these amendments could be transferred to the bicameral conference committee, Co said they are already set in stone as the Senate appears to agree with the House’s position.
“Ma-ano niyo no’ng nag announce kami ng, we will rearrange the confidential fund, nag agreement kaagad, nag bow kaagad ang Senate. The first time we enter the Senate, we will follow what the House said, and Senator Risa nabasa ko pa, na (she said) we will follow our colleague,” Co explained.
“And I heard the executive committee whining kaagad sila. That’s their decision, so I think it’s already a done deal,” he added.
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Before the Senate, Secretary Renato Bantug Jr. debunked such claims and clarified that the legislative body led by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has not received any undisclosed funding.
“These social media posts have been deliberately misleading and maliciously presented by some personalities seeking to defame and tarnish the reputation of an institution that is currently taking a long, hard look at the nature of confidential and intelligence funds and the government agencies that deserve to have them . said Bantug.