Senate panel OKs intel budgets

The Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday approved the proposed budgets of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the National Security Council amounting to P1.058-billion, and P343.3 million, respectively.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chair of the panel, made the announcement after the country’s top two intelligence bodies requested to discuss the budget proposals in an executive session.

“For the last four years, the Senate has increased the budgets of our two intelligence agencies in recognition of the critical role they play in securing our country,” Angara said.

He noted during the closed-door budget deliberation, the two agencies requested an additional budget for the strengthening of the institutions, maintenance and other operational expenses, and acquisition of equipment and vehicles.

“In the past three to four years, the Senate and the committee always help to provide them additional funding. At least, somehow, we are helping them to strengthen their institution,” he said.

Meanwhile, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros slammed the requested confidential funds of the Department of Education amounting to P150 million, compared to NICA’s proposed P141.2 million for its confidential and intelligence fund.

“We do not question the legal basis for the provision of confidential funds to civilian agencies like DepEd. But their confidential fund, which they say is supposed to go to surveillance activities for the security of students and teachers, is higher even than what the State’s intelligence agency asked for. The budget prioritization is misplaced. Let’s leave intelligence and security to the pros,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

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