Proposals for the conduct of a special audit of confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) spent by various military and law enforcement agencies have won support in the House of Representatives.
Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the recent flak received by the military for falsely accusing several University of the Philippines alumni as being members of the New People’s Army has triggered the need to determine how billions of pesos in intelligence and confidential funds are being spent by state security agencies.
On the other hand, Quezon City Rep. Jesus “Bong” Suntay, said red tagging and directly linking individuals as members of communist organizations does not, in any way, justify intelligence fund disbursements.
“The penchant of our military and police personnel of publishing list of individuals tagged as member of the New People’s Army must stop. Clearly the intention is to show that with the intel funds they have accomplished their job,” said Suntay, chairman of the House Committee on Human Rights.
Suntay said the “reckless publication” of the supposed NPA members among UP alumni contradicts what the military wanted to achieve.
However, Suntay sees nothing wrong in pursuing an audit of the CIF but pointed out that this is already part of COA’s job.
He cited COA Circular No. 92-385 and COA Circular No. 2003-003 providing for rules in the conduct of audit examination of CIF disbursements.
“This practice or system is transparent, although restricted within the office of the COA chairman to avoid information leak that may jeopardize the strict confidentiality of intelligence operations, as well as to avert endangering the lives and safety of government agents and employes,” Suntay explained.
The administration solon explained that under the COA circular, any disbursement from ICF of an agency “shall be accounted for solely on the certification of the head of agency or by the officer in charge of the intelligence, confidential or national security mission.”
Zarate underscored the importance of conducting a special COA audit of the CIF of various agencies.
Conduct of special audits are usually done discreetly to render it more effective at determining wrongly expenditures and other irregularities in the handling of government funds.
It will be recalled that a special audit conducted on the now defunct Priority Development Assistance Funds of the House of Representatives and the Senate resulted in the discovery of over P10 billion fraudulent disbursements of government funds.
“With the massive red-tagging based false information, conducting a special audit on intelligence fund spending of the AFP and the PNP is now in order,” said Zarate.
Members of both the Senate and Lower House have aired serious misgivings over the allocation of at least P4.5 billion in CIF for the Office of the President notwithstanding the current need for more funds to fight off the devastating effects to human health and economy of the COVID-19 pandemic.