By Hannah Torregoza
Where are the intelligence funds?
Detained Senator Leila de Lima posed this question to President Duterte after the latter claimed that public funds are running out amid the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
De Lima said she doesn’t understand why the President is already hinting of disposing government assets, when it can exhaust all available funds for its COVID-19 response programs.
“Wala pa tayo sa puntong ‘yon. Dapat makumbinse tayo na wala na talagang pera ang gobyerno (We’re not yet at that point. We should be convinced that the government has no more funds) in the budgets of 2019 and 2020; funds held by GOCCs and other agencies, etc. at mga special purpose fund like Malampaya, road users’ fund, etc. to begin contemplating the selling of our assets,” De Lima argued.
“Saka nasaan na nga ba ang napakalaking intel funds, baka naman pwedeng magamit din ito (And where are the huge intelligence funds? Maybe it’s about time we use the funds)?” she pointed out.
Duterte had earlier sought to double Palace’s confidential funds under the national budget for 2020.
Last year, De Lima questioned Congress’ lack of scrutiny on the proposed P4.5-billion “confidential, intelligence and extraordinary” funds under the Office of the President when the 2020 national budget was still being deliberated in the Senate and House of Representatives.
A vocal critic of the President, De Lima warned fellow lawmakers of the Duterte administration of being “notorious in inserting and tucking funds within the financial rigmarole.”
Duterte earlier said he is amenable to selling government assets in case funds for the government’s COVID-19 response runs out.
According to Duterte, among the government assets he is considering selling are the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).