, TV5 reports explain confidential and intelligence fund

CHEERS TO and TV5 for reports that explained what confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) are, and how public officials use them for their operations. CIF are “lump-sum funds” from the national budget used for information-gathering and surveillance of civilian government and security agencies. 

The bicameral committee of Congress approved on November 14 the allocation of PHP 500-million confidential funds for Sara Duterte’s Office of the Vice President (OVP). On December 5, it also approved the Department of Education’s (DepEd) 150-million confidential funds, which is also under Vice President Duterte.

Posted on November 15, TV5’s Frontline Pilipinas reported that confidential funds are “lump-sum funds” set aside in the national budget for expenses related to surveillance activities in civilian government agencies.’s November 22 episode of “Anyare?’’ only said that confidential funds are used by civilian government agencies, such as OVP and DepEd, to support their mandate and operations.

Frontline Pilipinas said that confidential funds are used to buy information programs related to national security, peace and order; to buy equipment and rent vehicles for operations, and to investigate illegal activities that pose a clear and present danger to the agency’s personnel and property. Such funds cannot be used for salaries, allowances, entertainment expenses, and construction or acquisition of buildings. Anyare did not further specify the use of confidential funds.

TV5’s Ed Lingao and Anyare’s Xave Gregorio said that intelligence funds are also expenses from the national budget, but are related to the information-gathering activities of security agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). PNP and AFP also utilize it for activities directly impacting national security. 

Both of their reports said that the specific allocations of CIF cannot be disclosed to the public, but this does not mean the agencies cannot be held accountable. Gregorio cited budget expert Zy-za Suzara who said that the agencies must still submit their reports to the Commission on Audit (COA). 

Both of the reports also referred to opposition figures Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Sen. Risa Hontiveros. Pimentel III said that spending of the CIF is not good practice in civilian government agencies because they are not tasked to do intelligence and law enforcement work. Meanwhile, Hontiveros argued that there are no extraordinarily compelling reasons DepEd presented to justify its demand for such funds. 

Gregorio listed past high-ranking officials who have asked for them: former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asked for PHP 600 million; the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III asked for PHP 500 million; and former Vice President Leni Robredo never asked for it.

Lingao only listed two past vice presidents who asked for confidential funds, namely Noli de Castro and Jejomar “Jojo” Binay. Neither account referred to past instances of DepEd’s or any other agency’s requesting CIF.

Anyare noted that under former President Rodrigo Duterte, CIF ballooned to billions of pesos. COA said Duterte spent PHP 4.5 billion. Anyare also said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. continued the trend by asking for PHP 2.25 billion. emphasized that CIF are not just simple issues of expenses and utilization, but also put into question the honesty and integrity of public officials using them. This leads us to the question: Can the public really trust President Marcos, who still has PHP 203-billion in unpaid estate taxes, and Vice President Duterte who said “all candidates lie, honesty is not an issue”?