Audit own intel funds, P-Noy told

MANILA, July 20, 2011—The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) asks the Aquino government to properly, transparently and completely audit the intelligence funds, amounting to P1.46 billion (US$34.05 million), which the Congress has approved last year.

Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya’s national chair, says that the President should inform the public how the said amount is used and being used, as the said fund is now hounded by controversy, in relation to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s “intelligence funds scam,” which the Philippine Senate is now investigating. 

“Mr. Aquino is legally obliged and morally bound to make an objective and transparent reporting. He should let COA [Commission on Audit] and an independent audit group to conduct an external audit of the P 1.46 B presidential pork barrel packaged as presidential intelligence funds,” Hicap said.

For years, the President’s “pork” had been speculated being used in corruption and in some activities that do not benefit the public.

Intelligence or special fund for the President represents a portion of the total funds allocated to the Office of the President. The Online Free Dictionary says the fund, supposedly, is “for intelligence activities when the use of other funds is not applicable or would either jeopardize or impede the mission of the intelligence unit.” However, this fund, according to some critics is not subject to auditing, thus, it is prone to misusage and corruption.

On the other hand, the intelligence fund is not the only “highly questionable” money allotted to different agencies and instrumentalities, under the Office of the President.

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation says, 15 percent of the approved funds for 2011 are “ambiguous” as their use is improperly or ambiguously identified.

“These funds, composed of big budget items for no properly identified purpose, run contrary to the administration’s declared thrust of transparency and accountability,” states IBON in a statement.

IBON has enumerated the “ambiguous funds” as follows: 1) the P66.91-billion un-programmed funds and P1-billion contingent fund subject to essentially presidential discretion; 2) the P29.29-billion fund for the greatly expanded Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program (4Ps) and National Household Targeting System, as the DSWD has yet to properly establish that it has the capacity to implement the huge increase in the program and budget; 3) P15-billion fund divided equally among three ambiguous “public-private partnership support funds” under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Department of Agriculture; 4) P2.34-billion fund to the military for “support to national development” which is even a matter more appropriately left to civilian departments; 5) P1.46 billion in intelligence funds, which is P403 million more than in Arroyo’s 2010 budget; 6) P1.19 billion for “major information and communication technology projects”, which is reminiscent of the failed NBN-ZTE deal; and 7) the P24.82 billion for the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which increased from PhP10.9 billion in 2010.

IBON said the aforementioned items “should be completely justified with their purposes, programs and project specified.”

“There should also be a significant, if not full, audit and itemization of funds use in time for the budget season next year. These, the group said, are some steps towards greater transparency,” IBON further stated.

Meanwhile, IBON has advised the Congress to ‘clip’ the powers of the Chief Executive to withhold budget releases as the lump-sum funds are often used as “pork barrel” for the president.

“Doing this undermines their patronage character and will make them less prone to abuse,” IBON explained.