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Ungab defends 400% hike in Duterte’s intel funds: It’s meant to match higher terrorist threat

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House appropriations committee chair Isidro Ungab on Monday defended the P4.5 billion worth of confidential and intelligence funds in the budget of the Office of the President (OP) for 2020.

During the plenary deliberation on the OP’s proposed P8.2-billion budget for 2020, Ungab stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte, ascommander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, needs the resources to adapt to the ever-changing threats to national security.

Ungab said the confidential and intelligence funds will be used for the administration’s intensified war against drugs, criminality, insurgency, and terrorism, among others.

“The President, as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, needs intelligence and confidential information in the performance of his duty in order to effectively, efficiently, and precisely plan all intensified efforts to suppress threats against national security, terrorism, campaign against illegal drugs, insurgency and transnational crimes,” Ungab said.

“I think it is only proper and fitting that we provide the amount as requested by the Office of the President in order for the OP to be able to deliver effectively and efficiently the needs of the country,” he added.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite questioned the “unprecedented” 400-percent increase in the intelligence and confidential funds, which he said comprised more than half of the entire OP 2020 budget.

Ungab, however, disagreed that the magnitude of the increase was “unprecedented” considering that the confidential and intelligence requirementwe are based on the “coordinated and integrated intelligence estimates” of local and foreign situations for the formulation of the national policies of the President.

He said there were complicated situations now in the field that would require “gargantuan tasks” in order to prevent such threats from arising.

“There are a lot of developments and we believe that we have to give the much-needed resources to the Office of the President in order to meet these present exigencies,” Ungab said.

“As the government plans ahead with its foresight and with its proper military police planning, the insidious forces are also planning another kind of approach. So the President must be updated, abreast, and I believe we should grant this request,” he added.

The plenary debates on the OP’s budget were terminated after almost an hour of interpellation from members of the Makabayan bloc.

The OP’s 2020 budget increased by P1.5 billion from P6.7 billion allocated for this year.

In its proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, the OP is proposing an P8.2-billion budget which consists of P6.7 billion for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), P1.1 billion for personnel services and P427 million for capital outlay.

Of the OP’s P6.7 billion MOOE budget, the office allocated P4.5 billion for confidential and intelligence funds. (PNA)

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