The intelligence fund (I.F.)

NOV. 4-10, 2010

COMMENTARY/ EDITORIAL

It’s really good that we have yearly budgetting or budget planning process. This is really a part in the yearly cycle of governance, and with this the public know how much, in our case, the local government units are earning in this year that budgets for the next year are estimated to be so close to reflect this year’s income- not so much a deficit and not so much an excess while noting the historical growths and existing trends and policy pronouncements on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) shares.   LGU budgets show to the discerning in public the project and service priorities of holders of local and provincial powers.

But one budgetary item that has still to be known much by the public at large is the intelligence fund (I.F.) that has been held to be confidential and even not specifically stated as a formal budget item in the executive budget and the approved annual budget. Why this should not be clearly stated in the annual budget seems to be already carrying hideous motivation and non-transparency. At the onset, this failing is due to the failure of the Dept. of Budget and Management to issue a particular circular on this.  This has been going on since when this I.F. as a budget item was invented.

The I.F. is a hidden item. It is derived based as 10 percent of the total annual budget or 30 percent of the Peace and Order Budget, whichever is lower. Thus, if the total annual budget approved is P100 million and inclusive of it is P5-million Peace and Order Budget, then between the derived P10 million and the P1.5 million, the latter of course is the worth of the confidential I.F. budget of the chief executive. Now why not just state as sub component budget the I.F. or put it in a bracket below the Peace and Order Budget, so that total transparency in terms of budget begins each first day of the fiscal year of the our local government units. The actual use of it can be excused since the I.F. in the first place is meant for security purposes and the government does not want to blow its covers or informants who receive the I.F. if it is itemized expenditure one, and not liquidated by mere certification (what a heck). But one wonders whether each year there’s excess or none of the I.F. and so we’re back to square one – on the intentional blunder of not specifically stating the I.F. in the approved annual budget.

Agaist the too much secrecy of the I.F., we recline on Senator Franklin Dirlon’s budgetary forays to the I.f. of Malacanang and national agencies including the military, police and National Bureau of Investigation, the thre agencies which he said the only ones ought to have the I.F. for engaging in intelligence activities and not the civilian agencies including the LGUs.  For next year, the I.F. of national agencies and Malacanang total P1.425 billion, that this is excluding the I.F. of the LGUs and state enterprises.

Upon Drilon’s initiative, the OP proper trimmed its intelligence fund by P50 million and another P250 million was slashed from the intelligence fund of PAOCTF and reallocated for various programs under OP.

“We need to put intelligence funds as regular items so that the accounting and auditing of those funds will no longer be in the nature of intelligence funds but as an ordinary item of expense where it will be liquidated in accordance with the government auditing code,” Drilon said.

Drilon’s committee has been averse to intelligence and confidential funds to civilian offices, noting that among others, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation should only be the ones engaged in intelligence activities.

Verily, there is goodness in the senator’s stance of trimming the I.F. budget and putting the slashed portions to productive and development programs and projects. He uncovered that during the Arroyo administration there was “liquidation by certification,” wherein the head of a particular agency or state firm has the sole jurisdiction of how the money would be spent, and now suspects that the I.F. is being abused and misused. The senator apparently feigns to be unaware as he is yet within a national range that a open secret among LGUs the I.F. is one good source of kickbacks and that it seems to be a handsome prize to chief executives who spent so much in the polls to make him elected.

Be that as it may, Senator  Drilon needs the backing from his fellows in the good, old club of senators and congressmen, especially to his proposal of making the I.F. a regular item than a confidential one “so that the accounting and auditing of these funds will no longer be in the nature of intelligence funds but as an ordinary item of expense where it will be liquidated in accordance with the government auditing code.” That is putting transparency on it and in effect the use of I.F. can be fully monitored by government accountants, auditors and most especially by the public. Drilon’s proposal augurs well for the transparency of this I.F. fund in the LGUs like those in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley.

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