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Explanation of vote: Senator Risa Hontiveros on General Appropriations Bill-Bicam report

PHILIPPINES, December 5 - Press Release
December 5, 2022

EXPLANATION OF VOTE: SENATOR RISA HONTIVEROS ON GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS BILL-BICAM REPORT

Today, the 19th Congress missed an opportunity to show its independence.

We failed to demonstrate that we do hold the power of the purse.

Nagpapasalamat ako sa mataas na kamara at sa Chairperson ng ating Senate Committee on Finance for accepting my amendments in the Senate to realign confidential and intelligence funds in DEPED to specific programs in the Department. Ngunit ako ay nalulungkot sa sinapit sa bicam na ito ay muling ibinalik. Tila naging mapurol at pudpud ang proteksyong binigay sa pondo ng bayan by granting in full all the requests for confidential and intelligence fund under the Marcos-Duterte administration.

And worst, the legislature agreed to remove provisions that require congressional reporting of the utilization plan and disbursement of the confidential and intelligence fund.

In the absence of such provisions, in spite of the Select Oversight Committee on Confidential and Intelligence Funds, how can we be expected to exercise checks and balances? At kung hindi natin makumbinsi ang mga kasamahan sa House sa napagkaisahan natin sa Senado, how can we ensure transparency and accountability?

Nakakapanghinayang po na sa unang budget ng administrasyon, Congress has shown its malleability to the whims of the administration and has squandered an opportunity offered by the Senate for more transparency and accountability and less opportunities for corruption.

Effectively, Congress has abdicated its power of the purse to holders of civilian offices and Departments in the executive, setting a precedent for improper budget requests leading up to the elections in 2028.

On account of the full restoration of the confidential and intelligence fund, as well as the removal of safeguards on the proper use of the CIF, I regret, Mr. President, dear colleagues, that I am constrained to vote NO to the bicameral conference committee report.