Probing the invisible multi-billion ‘black budget’

Features Philippines Sep 13, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Graphic: Michael Villanueva

Graphic: Michael Villanueva

Marjohara Tucay

Intelligence: This is what the Duterte administration apparently wants to increase next year.

Or so reveals the 2020 proposed national budget. Next year, the Office of the President is seeking to almost double the budget of its intelligence and confidential funds, for a combined total of P4.5 billion (US$86.7 million), from the P2.5 billion (US$48.2 million) usually allotted for the past three years.

Unlike any other portions of the national budget, wherein even slight increases or decreases require concrete justification, the Palace offered no explanation for the proposed increase. When legislators initially raised this red flag at the onset of the 2020 budget deliberations, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo simply retorted, “The government has to have resources to determine the threats against the state.” A classic non-answer answer to the question bugging public finance watchdogs: why the unprecedented hike?

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