The Center for Women’s Resources raises alarm over the swift termination of budget deliberations for the Office of the President (OP) amid significant concerns over the misallocation of Filipino taxpayers’ money to bloated confidential and travel funds.
Within ten minutes, the House leadership moved to terminate budget deliberations for the OP purportedly out of “parliamentary courtesy”. Last week, the same was accorded to Vice President Sara Duterte when the budget deliberation was concluded in less than 30 minutes. This long-standing tradition of parliamentary courtesy extended to high-ranking government officials must stop. The practice clearly only favors a few high-ranking individuals over public interest and undermines the principles of transparency, accountability, and responsible fiscal management.
The President and the House need to be reminded that they bear a solemn responsibility to exercise prudence and transparency when allocating and utilizing Filipino taxpayers’ money and the proposed OP budget does not seem to align with responsible and careful management of financial resources.
The proposed budget of the OP constitutes 1% of the total FY 2024 NEP. This includes P4.56 billion for Confidential and Intelligence Funds and P1.4 billion for travel expenses. Aside from the requested budget, the OP will be in charge of P733.2 billion worth of Special Purpose Funds whose program allocations are not defined.
If passed, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will hold a whopping P739.1 billion worth of Presidential Pork for FY 2024, 42.5% larger than that of 2023. This is bigger than the combined budget of the Department of Health (P199.45 billion), Department of Agriculture (P105.91 billion), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (P209.66 billion). It is concerning how questionable budget proposals, highly susceptible to corruption and wasting of public funds, are easily approved while subsidies and economic assistance to the poor continue to receive a meager portion of the budget.
The Center for Women’s Resources joins rights groups in scrutinizing the proposed budget of the Office of the President, and in demanding the rightful allocation of public funds for social services and addressing the worsening economic crisis.