By Billy Begas
Former House Speaker and incumbent Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez has called for the transfer of the confidential fund under the office of Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte to the appropriate security-related agencies.
Alvarez expressed his reservations regarding the proposed P500 million confidential funds of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for 2024. He said the funds should be instead transferred to the National Security Council (NSC).
He noted that Duterte in defending her request indicated that the funds would be utilized for “the safe, secure, and successful implementation of programs, projects, activities, and engagements of all the satellite offices, including the central office of the OVP.”
Notably, Vice President Duterte acknowledged that confidential funds from 2023 were used for programs unrelated to security matters, such as free bus rides, tree planting, and other initiatives, Alvarez said.
“Confidential funds play a crucial role in our government, especially in safeguarding our nation’s security. Nevertheless, it is imperative that these funds be channeled to an office uniquely equipped, both in terms of mandate and expertise, for their efficient stewardship. We must ensure that every peso of taxpayer money is expended wisely and to the ultimate benefit of the Filipino people,” Alvarez said.
The lawmaker stressed that confidential funds for the OVP and the Department of Education “are not mission-critical in ending what little remains of the communist threat to the nation.”
“The government consistently scored and won victories against the communist rebellion and insurgency steadily and convincingly through the years. And these were achieved during the previous administration practically without any confidential funds allocated to the OVP and DepEd,” he pointed out.
He maintained that confidential funds are “better allocated where they will produce the most bang for the buck, so to speak – so that the people from whom said funds came from will get the best return on their taxpayer’s money.”
“We cannot disregard the fiscal challenges our nation faces today. It is our duty to prioritize the judicious allocation of resources, especially when it comes to sensitive matters like national security,” he said.
Alvarez pointed out that the NSC was only allocated P120 million in confidential funds for 2024 “but the OVP, a purely civilian office, has more than tripled of the same budget allocation with P500 million.”
“While confidential funds have their place, that place must be where they can be most effectively utilized, and that’s within the National Security Council. More specifically, the entire amount of 500 million would in fact better serve the NSC and its priority programs,” he added.