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Critics call for abolition of confidential funds, audit of past expenditures

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26) — Several civil society groups plan to visit the Senate when sessions resume on Nov. 6 to press lawmakers to remove confidential funds from civilian agencies under the proposed ₱5.768-trillion national budget for 2024.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) and the Movement for Good Governance and Genuine Democracy led the formation of the «Abolish Confidential Funds Network» Wednesday at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

They signed a manifesto condemning the allocation of secret funds to civilian agencies and vowed to engage legislators to ensure the allocation will not be restored during the bicameral conference committee.

The executive branch is seeking over ₱10 billion in confidential and intelligence funds for next year.

The House of Representatives realigned around ₱1.2 billion of the allocation, including the ₱650 million sought by the Office of the Vice President and Department of Education — both led by Sara Duterte — to agencies focused on the West Philippine Sea.

READ: Congress to reallocate intel, confidential funds to security agencies

Aside from pushing for the removal of confidential funds, the coalition said it wants to inform the public about the national budget and how the government's spending plan affects their lives.

«Ang Abolish Confidential Funds Network ay handa sa lobbying, hindi lang sa Nov. 6 kundi hanggang matapos ang plenary deliberations ng Senado,» Bayan Secretary General Raymond Palatino said.

[Translation: The Abolish Confidential Funds Network is ready to lobby, not just in Nov. 6 but until the plenary deliberations of the Senate are over.]

«Kung kinakailangan na araw-araw may trooping tayo sa loob at labas ng Senado…lahat ng pamamaraan to reach out to our senators, gagawin natin,» he added.

[Translation: Even if it takes trooping inside and outside the Senate every day…we will do all methods to reach out to our senators.]

Meanwhile, NUPL Chairman Neri Colmenares said the Commission on Audit should also look into how the previous Duterte administration spent confidential funds despite audit limitations.

He noted that