By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo believes state auditors should report on how the government offices spend their intelligence funds amid the confidential fund controversy that has put the Department of Information and Communications (DICT) on the defensive.
Robredo, a leader of the opposition, said doing so would ensure public officials are held accountable for how they spend their intelligence funds.
“Iyong sa akin, dapat dumadaan din siya sa COA (Commission on Audit), para iyong tamang paggamit nache-check pa din (For me, the intelligence funds should also pass through COA so its proper use will likewise be checked),” she said.
“Ang pagsabi ko nito, hindi lang sa partikular na opisina, pero lahat ng opisina na binibigyan ng intelligence funds. Parang wala kasing naka-set papaano ba ito ire-regulate,” Robredo added.
(In saying this, it should not only apply to a particular office, but to all offices that are being given intelligence funds. It looks like there are no rules set on how it can be regulated.)
The vice president underscored the importance of transparency and accountability in the disbursement of intelligence funds because they are taxpayers’ money.
“Hindi puwedeng intelligence funds pero discretionary iyong paggamit kasi pera ito ng bayan (These can’t be intelligence funds whose specific use is discretionary because these are public funds),” Robredo noted.
The DICT came under fire over the questionable release of its P300-million intelligence and confidential funds in three tranches of P100 million last year.
Amid this issue, DICT Undersectary Eliseo Rio Jr., who led the country’s search for a third communications player, offered to resign his post last January 30.
Robredo said the intelligence fund allocated to a certain agency is prone to abuse if this is not subject to scrutiny of COA. She also cited the need to pass a law that will hold accountable the officials handling the intelligence fund.
The Office of the President has the highest share of confidential and intelligence funds in the national budget. The others are the police, defense department, Office of the Solicitor General, and justice department apart from DICT.
COA had admitted these funds are difficult to audit since its specific use is not disclosed to the public as these are to be spent for matter relating to national security and peace and order.