Like predecessor, PBBM asks for P4.5B worth of confidential, intel funds

The Office of the President (OP) under President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is seeking confidential and intelligence funds worth P4.5 billion for next year.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

This was learned by House of Representatives reporters Monday, Aug. 22, the same day that the P5.268-trillion National Expenditure Program or NEP for 2023 was submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the House leadership.

The NEP is the precursor of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which, once signed by the President, will be known as the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

According to the 2023 NEP, which emanated from Malacañang, the OP has allocated P2.250 billion for its confidential funds.

Meanwhile, an equal amount of P2.250 billion was set aside for intelligence funds.

But what do these terms mean? Confidential funds are defined as expenses for surveillance activities in civilian agencies. On the other hand, intelligence funds are for information-gathering activities of uniformed personnel.

Marcos's predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, also asked lawmakers for the same amount of confidential and intelligence funds during last year's budget season, which covered the year 2022.

It will be up the House of Representatives and Congress in general to scrutinize the details of the 2023 NEP--including the sought confidential and intelligence funds--as well as to decide whether to retain, reduce, increase, or re-align the proposed individual budgets of the agencies.

The 2023 NEP--the biggest in the country’s history--was formally submitted Monday by DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman to House officials led by Speaker Martin Romualdez (Leyte 1st district), Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe (Zamboanga City 2nd district), and Appropriations Committee Chairman Zaldy Co (Ako Bicol Party-list)