Senate brings back oversight panel for confidential, intel funds

Photo courtesy of Senate PRIB

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on Monday sponsored Senate Resolution No. 302, creating a Select Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds.

“Since the Tenth Congress, it has been the tradition of the Senate to constitute a Select Oversight Committee for these funds, and we must, in the 19th Congress, continue this tradition,” Zubiri said in his privilege speech.

To recall, there is an allocation of over 9.28 billion for confidential and intelligence funds under the General Appropriations Bill for 2023.

Zubiri emphasized the importance of these funds in ensuring the safety and security of the public.

“Crime looks and moves differently than we are used to. Sometimes it creeps into vulnerable spaces, like schools — where illegal drugs or child pornography can find root in,” he said.

“So in these times, we need to be more trusting of our government agencies. We have to have faith that they would use every inch of diligence and discretion in undertaking surveillance and intelligence gathering in the discharge of their mandates,” he added.

While he recognized the necessity of confidential and intelligence funds, he also stressed the importance of remaining vigilant over their utilization.

“These are not subject to the usual or regular auditing rules and procedures of the Commission on Audit, as compared to other expense items in the budget,” he stressed.

“So it falls on us, on this proudly democratic and independent Senate, to reactivate the Select Oversight Committee, where we can subject these confidential and intelligence funds to checks and balances,” he added.

He noted that the proposed Committee will be under his watch with Senators Sonny Angara, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, and Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel as members.

Earlier, former Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Vicente “Tito” Sotto, and Franklin Drilon urged the incumbent senators to tap the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds to investigate government agencies’ utilization of their CIFs.

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