Saturday , September 23 2023
Home / Headline / Zubiri vows to boost Navy, Coast Guard CIFs

Zubiri vows to boost Navy, Coast Guard CIFs

SENATE President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri has vowed to augment the confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) of the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard because of their vital role in protecting the country’s territorial waters.

Zubiri underscored the need to raise the CIFs of the Navy and the PCG as the two agencies are “defenders” of Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

SEN. Juan Miguel 'Migz' Zubiri
SEN. Juan Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri 

In a radio interview on Saturday, he said the PCG and Navy should be entitled to full logistical and operational support, including an increase in their CIFs in the 2024 national budget.

“Because of what is happening in the West Philippine Sea, we want to increase the budget of our troops, Navy personnel, and Coast Guard to strengthen our external defense capabilities so that we can have a credible defensive posture,” Zubiri said.

He discussed the recent decision of the Senate to revive the Select Oversight Committee on CIFs (Soccif), which will review the use of CIFs by some 30 agencies and determine if there is a need to realign some of the funds for better use.

Zubiri lamented that the CIFs of the PCG and PN, tasked with protecting the national territory in the WPS from China’s incursions, are at a measly P10 million and P39.74 million, respectively.

The PCG’s intelligence funds have remained at P10 million since 2022, though the agency’s proposed 2024 budget increased to P24.01 billion from P21.92 billion in 2023.

“Imagine, the confidential fund of Coast Guard is only P10 million, while the other agencies have hundreds of millions [in CIFs],” Zubiri pointed out.

“So, I would suggest we realign some intelligence funds to those who really need intelligence funds [specifically to agencies mandated] to protect us both internally and externally,” he said.

CIFs realignments

Zubiri said that once the Senate receives the 2024 national budget from the House of Representatives, they will push for realignments or changes in the CIFs to boost the intelligence capabilities of the PCG and PN.

“That is our promise to you. There will be changes in terms of intelligence funds at confidential funds [allocation], and I think it will be reflected in the outcome of the Senate hearings on the budget,” he said.

In reviving the Soccif to review the CIFs of 30 government agencies, Zubiri said they will determine if their respective funds were properly used in the past.

“If we think that their request for these [CIF] budget allocations is necessary, then we will approve it,” he said.

He added that if the committee finds out that the use of the CIFs can be allocated in an agency’s regular budget as a line item, then they will move to recommend it during the budget deliberations.

“We will give recommendations in the plenary. We have to vote in the committee if the intelligence fund of a particular agency should be reduced or removed,” Zubiri said.

Proxy war tool?

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Tolentino dismissed some observations that the Philippines is being used as a “proxy war” tool by other nations against China.

In an interview on Sunday, Tolentino said that there is no way the Philippine government will allow itself to become a tool for “surrogate conflict” amid the rising tensions between China and other claimant countries in the disputed territories in the South China Sea. — Bernadette E. Tamayo


Credit belongs to:

Check Also

Transparency vowed in buying poll devices

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday vowed transparency and inclusivity in the procurement of …