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Senate revives special oversight panel to review intel and confidential funds in gov’t

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Senate has revived the special oversight panel that will review how the government uses its intelligence and confidential funds.

Senate of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Senate of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Senators were unanimous in adopting Monday night Resolution No. 310, which reconstitutes the “Select Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds, Programs and Activities.”

There has been a similar oversight committee in the Senate from the 10th to 17th Congress.

Introduced by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the measure would allow the Upper Chamber to oversee the efficiency of government agencies in producing “accurate and timely intelligence information to better deal with the threats to national security, including the maintenance of peace and order, thereby providing a safe environment and secure place of abode to the people.”

Under the 2020 national budget, more than P9.6 billion was allocated as intelligence and confidential funds to implement programs and activities of the government relative to national defense, peace and order, and national security, the resolution stated.

“It is incumbent upon the Senate to reactivate the Select Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds, Programs and Activities in the 18th Congress to continue exercising its oversight functions over the use, disbursement, and expenditures of confidential and intelligence funds granted to certain government agencies; and to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the conduct of aforesaid intelligence activities, sources, methods, and programs,” it read.

The panel will be led by Lacson, who also chairs the Senate Defense Committee.

Sotto also designated Senators Nancy Binay, Ronald dela Rosa, Christopher Go, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Francis Tolentino, as its members.

The creation of the oversight panel came after claims on the alleged misuse of some P300 million in intelligence funds by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) last year.

Despite DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan and resigned Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. having clarified issues on the matter, Sotto said last Saturday that the Senate panel would continue looking into the intelligence funds.

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