MANILA—Opposition lawmakers sought a breakdown of the Office of the President's budget allocation for national-security oversight programs, as well as its confidential and intelligence funds next year, hoping they would not be used to "silence the opposition."
"There’s this thinking, feeling that going to the elections of 2019, there would definitely be attempts to silence the opposition or to put a gag on all those who are opposing the present administration," Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said.
Under the 2019 budget, P1.25 billion was allotted each for President Rodrigo Duterte's confidential funds and intelligence funds.
The executive had the same budget for the two items in the 2018 budget.
The allocation earmarked for 2019 shall mainly be used for the war on drugs, criminality and corruption, said Committee on Appropriations vice chair Maria Carmen Zamora, who sponsored the budget for the Office of the President.
A portion of the funds will also be used as reward money or "compensations for individuals hired to detect the whereabouts of criminals," she said.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro noted that the Office of the President's intelligence and confidential funds were "five times" higher than the P500-million allocation for the two sums in 2016, the year Duterte was elected to office.