Earning The Public’s Trust



One of the pillars that drives the public’s trust in its government institutions is transparency, openness and integrity, most specially in the use of government funds. This, however, seems to be the least among the concerns of the country’s highest officials. On its 3rd Reading, the House of Representatives, headed by the cousin of the President, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, has approved the P5.268 T budget for 2023. Of this budget, 4.5 B has been earmarked for the Office of the President, P500M for the Office of the Vice-President, and for the first time in the history of the Department of Education, P105 M- all as confidential and intelligence funds, apart from other portions of these government offices’ proposed budgets. How these huge amounts are going to be spent would not be visible to the Commission on Audit, let alone the Filipino public.

By its legal definition, confidential funds (CF) are used for “surveillance activities in civilian government agencies that are intended to support the mandate or operations of the said agency.” Intelligence funds (IF), on the other hand, are for “intelligence information-gathering activities of uniformed and military personnel and of intelligence practitioners that have direct impact on national security.”


These definitions are explicitated in Joint Circular No. 2015-01 of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), the Commission on Audit (COA), and the Governance Commission for government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC).


The budgeting process signals the government’s policy priorities and conveys how elected officials aim to fulfill their constitutional mandate. What does this reflect about national leadership, one might ask, when safety and security takes on central importance and fundamental priority, at a time of enormous challenges in the country’s post-pandemic recovery? This is a question worth pondering on, indeed.


And as they always say, “if the truth hurts, then it probably should”.


TRIVIA:


Our felicitations to Archbishop Archbishop Adolfo “Tito” C. Yllana, DD, the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, on the occasion of his 50th Sacerdotal Anniversary, which he will celebrate through a solemn Thanksgiving Mass at the Carmelite Church at 4:00 pm on September 29, 2022 .


Greetings to my wife Minda’s relative, Rev. Fr. Alfonso Grageda who we happily chanced upon at the Villa Caceres Hotel sometime this week.


QUOTATION OF THE WEEK:


“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” ―Bertrand Russell


FOR OUR WORD OF LIFE:


“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” - Proverbs 11:14