Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian wants a more transparent accounting of the President Aquino’s P500-million intelligence fund as well as the more than P2 billion in Presidential Social Fund (PSF).
In deference to the President, the House of Representatives and the Senate do not inquire into how the chief executive uses his confidential and intelligence funds but Gatchalian said it would do well for PNoy’s “tuwid na daan” if Malacanang will exercise transparency since the intelligence fund and the PSF are also taxpayers’ money.
“It would be a good legacy for PNoy’s tuwid na daan if during his last 10 months in Malacanang a more transparent accounting of his PSF and intel funds will be made by Palace officials,” Valenzuela City Congressman Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian pointed out that with the 2016 presidential elections just around the corner, transparency is important to douse suspicions that the PSF will be used for the campaign of the administration candidates.
“The PSF can be considered as a presidential pork barrel since its disbursement is known only to Malacanang and does not undergo the usual post-audit scrutiny of the Commission on Audit. This makes it susceptible to fund misuse especially now that elections are coming up,” explained Gatchalian.
The PSF is mainly source from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). While the two government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) undergo COA scrutiny, their contributions to the PSF does not. As a rule, COA just accepts the Malacanang report on PSF disbursement in deference to the President.
Annual remittance of PAGCOR to the PSF is around P2 billion while PCSO is around P900 million. Amount remitted to PSF is net of the two GOCCs’ salaries and monthly operating expenses plus the 23 percent tax being paid to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The P500-million presidential intelligence fund is under the item Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), which is headed by the Anti-Crime Czar and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
The P500-million PAOCC budget started in 1999 under the administration of former Joseph Estrada and a portion of this budget was used to fund the operation of the now defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) then headed by former PNP Director General Panfilo Lacson, who later became a senator.
“It’s about time that Congress, which has the power of the purse, make a scrutiny of the PSF and the P500 million intel fund to determine if these funds are being spent wisely by the Aquino administration especially at a time when elections are just around the corner,” Gatchalian said.
Based on his budget proposal, President Aquino will have P250 million for confidential expenses and another P250 million for intelligence expenses next year. He is only required to submit to the COA a certification stating in very general terms the purpose for which the money is used.
The P500 million is part of the nearly P2-billion appropriation for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for the Office of the President (OP).
The OP budget will increase by more than P200 million to P2.860 billion next year from P2.602 billion this year. This does not include the more than P2-billion worth of PSF, which is basically a presidential pork barrel. (R. Burgos)