SENATOR Chiz Escudero said only half of the country’s intel fund is appropriated for the 85 million Filipinos while the other half is for the President’s alone.
Escudero today asked where and how the country’s intelligence fund, especially the one allocated to the President’s office was spent amid present talks and scare of terrorist attack following the Glorietta 2 blast incident.
The senator said that even if authorities are most likely to conclude accident as the cause of the blast, terrorism and sabotage have not been totally ruled out, as expressed by the National Security Adviser.
"If the Glorietta incident was borne out of negligence, those responsible should be held accountable. Safety nets of our local governments should be strengthened and it should be a must for all LGUs to conduct an audit of all establishments for security purposes."
"But if it was borne out of criminal intent, our intelligence networks should be working expediently with the budget they have been receiving from the national coffers and be able to anticipate and stop things like this from happening."
Escudero said the Office of the President alone receives P650 million pesos for its intelligence fund, bigger than the combined intelligence funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of National Defense and the Philippine National Police
The combined intelligence fund of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) amounts to almost P151 million pesos only, while the DND-PNP totals to P270 million pesos. The AFP includes the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, the General Headquarters and the DND-Office of the Secretary.
Escudero said if the intelligence funds have been used "intelligently", any criminal intent and acts could be anticipated enabling authorities to do what is necessary to stop them.
"Intelligence funds are used to gather information by those entities with enforcement function, but our intelligence community have a problem, either they fail or there is an absence of intelligence."
Escudero also posed a question on the appropriation of intelligence funds. "If the fund is given to the law enforcement agencies, that is to protect us, the citizens. But if you give the fund to the President, is that to protect her?"
He went on to say that with the amount of the President’s intelligence funds almost doubling the combined intelligence funds of the AFP and the PNP, it seems that the lives of 85 million Filipinos is only half worth as the life of the President.
The chairman of the Senate ways and means committee hits the discretionary nature of intelligence funds which are confidential and not subject to audit.
Escudero said misuse of these funds is one of the ways people’s money disappears without a trace. "The discretionary nature of the fund means you have the authority to decide how money is spent but it must be remembered that you are just acting as the caretaker of the people’s money, therefore the way these money are spent should be for the collective benefit."
Escudero said authorities should begin using the intelligence funds to protect its people from criminal minds, to abate the sentiment that its government is its own enemy. #