Another year, another national budget is set to be approved, one of which is the budget for the Confidential and Intelligence Fund (CIF). What would have been your guess if the proposed budget for CIF this year had not yet been announced? One, it's lower than last year; or two, it's higher this time. Well, if you chose the latter option, you hit the nail on the head.


Despite the backlash and opposition received by the Office of the President (OP) and Office of the Vice President (OVP) on their CIF requests during their first year in office, respectively 4.5 billion and 500 million, both offices once again requested the same amount. But the fun(d) (pun intended) does not stop there; more government agencies have joined and requested an increase for CIFs in the 2024 National Expenditure Plan (NEP). This leads people to question whether this is the latest trend in government. 


Confidential Funds or Confidential Fun? It seems to me that our government officials are always ready to join the parade on everything budget-related.

Lawmakers and critics have questioned once again the proliferation of CIF budgets and requests, pointing out that some government agencies that are not directly responsible for national security, law enforcement, or surveillance are receiving millions and billions of pesos worth of CIFs. The total amount of CIF across all agencies in the proposed 2024 budget is P10.14 billion, with a P120 million increase compared to last year. 


The Budget Secretary, Amenah Pangandaman was quick to defend that the budget increase of  P120 million was due to the additional allocations for the Presidential Security Group, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the newly added Department of Information and Communications Technology. However, it missed out on the other newly added agency for this year's budget that has requested P50 million, which is the Department of Agriculture headed by President Bongbong Marcos as secretary of DA. 


People might find this scenario familiar, like how President Sarah Duterte, the Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), has requested P150 million for CIF, aside from the OVP worth 500 million. These double expenditures under their offices do not look good at all, especially when the DA and DepEd are not particularly responsible for national security, law enforcement, and surveillance. Not to mention that the OP and OVP hold the top shares of the total proposed CIF budget. 


In the statement of Senator Koko Pimentel opposing the huge and unnecessary CIF budgets for the executive offices, it is emphasized that such an amount may also be beneficial if used in recovery and rebuilding efforts for the country’s economy, as recent weather disturbances left a trail of destruction in agriculture and infrastructure and distressed millions of people.


Additional government agencies that have also proposed their CIF budgets with an increase for 2024 are the Department of National Defense from 1.75 billion to 1.81 billion, the Department of Finance from 80.5 million to 111 million, the Office of the Ombudsman from 31 million to 51.468 million, the Department of Foreign Affairs from 45 million- 50 million, and the Department of Transportation from 5.59 million to 5.60 million. 


The allocation of 10.14 billion to confidential and intelligence funds that do not even require public disclosure of its accounting and expenditures that can barely be traced and audited have shaken once again our fear of corruption and have augmented our frustrations with regard to the government's detachment and lack of empathy to the current situation of our country and its people, the same concerns we have last year for the confidential and intelligence funds (Read here: 


Instead of becoming a ghost budget, the money should instead be allocated for services, projects, and programs that directly benefit the people.


The DBM Secretary may have pointed out that 'the CIFs are small percentages of the total budget per year'  amounting to 0.176 percent of the total budget, but it does not give the government officials the right to not conform to their nature of confidentiality and small percentage share. Government officials and government agencies can keep their hands to themselves and leave the confidential and intelligence funds to agencies that are directly associated with and responsible for surveillance and information-gathering activities that have a direct impact on national security.


This serves as a reminder to government agencies that unnecessary requests for confidential and intelligence funds is not a trend that Filipinos are willing to tolerate. This trend of officials being fond of confidential funds should come to an end, as it is another potential breeding ground for corruption and a lack of transparency in the government. It's high time that government officials step up to become standard leaders and bearers of integrity and exemplary leadership rather than running the government like a circus with personal bank accounts. 


Lastly, it's better to see the confidential and intelligence fund reach its lowest share percentage than to hear it skyrocket in the coming years with unnecessary expenditures.

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