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3:10 pm on 17 November 2022, Thursday
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has filed a measure seeking to form an oversight panel to investigate government agencies' utilization of their allocated confidential and intelligence funds.
"It has long been the practice of the Senate to constitute a Select Oversight Committee for confidential and intelligence funds," Zubiri said in a statement.
"Since the 10th Congress, the Senate has always formed the Select Oversight Committee, and we are going to continue that for the 19th Congress."
The upper chamber is now deliberating the proposed P5.268 trillion General Appropriations Bill for 2023 after the House of Representatives approved their version in late September.
The 2023 GAB marks P9,287,675,000 for confidential and intelligence funds--with P4,330,048,000 as confidential and P4,957,627,000 as intelligence.
Based on the proposed 2023 budget, P4.5 billion in intelligence and confidential funds has been earmarked for the Office of the President. On the other hand, the Office of the Vice President is seeking a P500-million intelligence and confidential funds.
"It is our job, as an independent and democratic Senate, to keep watch over the use of the national budget. That is especially true for these sensitive funds, which are not subject to the usual auditing rules and procedures of the Commission on Audit. Being that we cannot identify the particulars of their usage ahead of time, the Committee is our way of subjecting these funds to checks and balances,” said the Senate leader.
"These funds are important in allowing our agencies to conduct necessary programs, operations, and activities for the safety and security of our people. But we need to be vigilant about how these funds are used, which will be the function of our Special Oversight Committee."
The proposed committee will be composed of three members of the majority, one minority, and will be headed by the Senate President.