DELIBERATION. Senator Sonny Angara (left), Finance committee chair, defends the proposed PHP737.36 billion budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways as Secretary Manuel Bonoan (center) listens on Tuesday (Nov. 15, 2022). Among the agency’s programs are traffic decongestion, integrated and seamless transport system, sustainable communities and rural roads’ development. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Senate begins the period of amendments Monday for the proposed PHP5.268-trillion National Expenditure Program of 2023, with confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) to get the most scrutiny.

Senator Sonny Angara, chair of the Finance committee, said in a radio interview that disagreements will be resolved through nominal voting.

Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel previously said he will block the “enormous” CIF allocation of the Office of the Vice President (OVP), Department of Education (DepEd), and Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), all of which did not secure such funds for 2022.

OVP asked for PHP500 million, DepEd for PHP150 million and the OSG PHP19.2 million for their CIFs.

Angara said he sees nothing wrong with the total PHP9.3 billion for CIFs because they are necessary for the agencies’ needs but acknowledged there must be a consensus among his colleagues.

He said the agencies had their CIFs "at one point".

Pag-aralan natin kasi hindi naman maganda na tanggalin natin ang sa OVP, eh ipinagkatiwala sa kanya ng Pangulo. Dahil gusto niyang magtagumpay si VP, kaya sa kanya pinagkatiwala ang DepEd, dahil diyan nakasalalay ang kinabukasan ng ating kabataan (We will study the funds. The President trusted the OVP with the budget, he wants the VP to succeed in the DepEd. This is for our youth’s future),” Angara said, referring to Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte.

Angara said the proposed 2023 budget is focused on economic recovery as the country tries to get over the slump caused by the nearly three-year-old Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict which contributed to rising oil prices.

He assured continuous financial aid for targeted sectors such as agriculture, education, transportation, and tourism, free rides and fuel subsidies.

Lahat ‘yan ay may mga pondo na at ipapatupad agad pagpasok ng (The programs are funded and will be implemented right away by) 2023,” Angara said. (PNA)