By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is seeking a budget of P8.2 billion for 2020, higher than the P6.7 billion allocation this year.
More than half of the proposed budget of the Office of the President (OP) or P4.5 billion will be set aside for confidential and intelligence expenses supposedly to ensure country’s security next year.
At least P2.25 billion will go to confidential expenses in 2020, up from P1.25 billion this year. Another P2.25 billion will go to intelligence expenses, higher than the P1.25 billion this year.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has defended the huge budget allocation for OP as he assured the public that President’s budget would not be lost to corruption.
“You really need money if you want to secure your country. And the Office of the President is one of the better offices that can secure the security of the land,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
He explained that OP must have resources “to determine the threats against the state.” “Mahirap mag-secure sa isang bansa, kailangan mo talaga ng pera. You need people, you need machines, technology… maraming paggagastusan [It’s difficult to secure the country. You need money. You need people, you need machines, technology. There are many expenses],” he added.
In the proposed 2020 budget of OP, P6.7 billion will be allocated to maintenance and operating expenses (MOOE), P1.07 billion to personnel services and P427 million to capital outlay.
Under MOOE, the President’s representation allocation also jumped to P418 million next year from P357 million this year. The proposed travel funds of OP, on the other hand, decreased to P670 million in 2020 from P795 million this year.
Panelo also gave a guarantee that the President’s budget would not go to corruption, adding that there would be accountability in the fund disbursement.
“Number one si Presidente nga na ayaw ng corruption eh. Napaka-istrikto ni Presidente eh [The President is the number one person who hates corruption. The President is very strict],” he said.
“The President is not exempted from accountability, kung if you’re talking about accountabilities. Lahat na mayroong hawak ng pera are required by law to account, so I don’t think there is a problem with that,” he added.