Press Release
September 6, 2023


Government officials asking for confidential and intelligence funds in their spending plan under the 2024 national budget should be held with greater accountability to ensure that public funds are spent judiciously and efficiently, according to Sen. Chiz Escudero.

At Tuesday's hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance that tackled the next year's proposed budget, Escudero reminded Cabinet members and heads of government agencies to bare their "physical and financial plan" on how they intend to spend their requests for confidential funds "without violating the confidential nature of the funds."

The Bicolano senator made the statement as the finance panel discussed the budget allocation of DepEd, which included the P150-million confidential fund request of the department.

"Since it is the discretion of Congress, as I heard the Madam Secretary and Vice President say, to grant this or not, we will grant it for as long as we see the physical and financial plan broken down according to the JMC without violating the confidentiality that you need in order to perform your job," Escudero explained.

The senator was referring to the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2015- 01 issued by the Department of Budget and Management, the Commission on Audit, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of National Defense, and the Governance Commission for the GOCCs (GCG) on January 8, 2015 which prescribed "guidelines on the entitlement, release, use, reporting and audit of confidential and/or intelligence funds."

Per JMC, confidential fund refers to the lump-sum amount provided as such in the General Appropriations Act for National Government Agencies, in appropriation ordinances for local government units, and in the corporate operating budgets or COBs for government owned and controlled corporations, for their confidential expenses.

Intelligence expenses, on the other hand, refer to those related to intelligence information gathering activities of uniformed and military personnel and intelligence practitioners that have direct impact on national security.

"In short, confidential funds may be lodged in civilian agencies, intelligence funds cannot be lodged in civilian agencies. Intelligence funds only belong to military or uniformed agencies," Escudero clarified.

"May listahan naman sa JMC like surveillance, transportation, etc. It's a matter of putting amounts to each that you can legally spend on without specifying, we are not violating any of the confidentiality rules," he stressed.

Under Section 4 (General Guidelines) of JMC 2015- 01, all allocations of CF and/or IF are required to be supported with a Physical and Financial Plan, indicating the proposed amount allocated for each program, activity, and project, where disbursements pertaining to CE and IE shall be based.

Submitting to Congress the disbursement plans of government agencies will shed light on how these funds are spent and make the public aware that though the funds are confidential in nature, the money cannot be spent by government officials in any way they want.

"The point I am driving at and the reason I am asking for this, Madam Chair, is to disabuse the thoughts of the people that confidential fund is a secret fund. Hindi naman ito pwedeng gastusin sa gusto lang gastusin ng DepEd Secretary," he said, addressing Sen. Pia Cayetano who presided the hearing.

"There are specific rules as to where this can be spent, how this can be spent, and to disabuse the mind of people that this is like a secret fund, it is not. Secret 'yung submission ng expenditure but they are only specific items that you can spend it on," he added.

Per JCM, the funds are not to be used for payment of salaries and wages, overtime, additional compensation, allowance or other fringe benefits of officials and employees, representation/ entertainment expenses, consultancy fees and construction or acquisition of buildings or housing structures. #



Section 4.8: CF shall be used only for the following Confidential Expenses:

4.8.1 Purchase of information necessary for the formulation and implementation of program, activities and projects relevant to the national security and peace and order;

4.8.2 Rental of transport vehicle related to confidential activities;

4.8.3 Rentals and the incidental expenses related to the maintenance of safehouses;

4.8.4 Purchase or rental of supplies, materials and equipment for confidential operations that cannot be done through regular procedures without compromising the information gathering activity concerned;

4.8.5 Payment of rewards to informers (non-employee of concerned government agency) subject to the following conditions:

a. Approval by the HoA in the case of LGUs and NGAs and approval by the Chairman of the Board in case of GOCC.

b. Supported with documents evidencing the success of the information gathering and/or surveillance activities on account of the information given by the informer; and

c. Directly related to the conduct of the specific confidential activities of authorized agencies.

4.8.6 Uncover/Prevent illegal activities that pose a clear and present danger to agency personnel/property, or other facilities and resources under the agency protection, done in coordination with the appropriate law enforcement agencies;

4.8.7 Others that may be authorized by the GAA or other special law/s.

Section 4.10 IF shall be used only for the following Intelligence Expenses carried out by uniformed and military personnel, and Intelligence Practitioners:

4.10.1 Intelligence and counter intelligence activities that have direct impact to national security.

4.10.2 Special projects and case operation plans as approved by the HoA involving covert or semi-covert psychological, internal security operation, and peace and order activities, as well as programs/projects/campaigns against lawlessness and lawless elements involving intelligence activities.

Section 4.11 In no case shall CF or IF be used for:

4.11.1 Salaries, wages, overtime, additional compensation, allowance or other fringe benefits of officials and employees who are employed by the, government in whatever capacity or elected officials, except when authorized by law.

4.11.2 Representation, consultancy fees or entertainment expenses; or

4.11.3 Construction or acquisition of buildings or housing structures.

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