MANILA – The bicameral conference for House Bill No. 8980 or the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which started to convene on Thursday, is eyeing to restore the proposed PHP300 million confidential funds of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
Senator Sonny Angara, who leads the Senate contingent to the conference, noted that without the fund, the country will be more prone to cybercrimes.
"Ang napag-uusapan lang is I think DICT to increase cybersecurity dahil alam naman natin minsan yung giyera hindi nasa battlefield, di ba (What is being talked about is I think DICT to increase cybersecurity because we know that war is not only in the battlefield, right)?" Angara said in an interview.
"Tayo, as consumers nagta-transact tayo online. Kapag nawala yun, pilay tayo. Our economy will come to a halt. So, I think the DICT is trying to appeal na maibalik sana at least a portion of their confidential funds (We, as consumers, we transact online. Without it, our economy will come to a halt. So, I think the DICT is trying to appeal that at least a portion of their confidential fund should be restored)," he added.
Angara said they are currently consulting with Senator Grace Poe, who is in-charge with the DICT's proposed 2024 budget, to decide on whether to restore the fund.
During its budget deliberations in the Senate, Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa called for the increase of DICT's budget or provide the agency with confidential funds.
During the plenary debates, the Senate approved DICT's PHP9.9 billion proposed 2024 budget, including its proposed confidential fund amounting to PHP280 million but was transferred into its regular line item making it subject to the Commission on Audit's scrutiny.
The bicameral conference, Angara said, targets to approve the PHP5.768 trillion proposed 2024 budget within two weeks and for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to be able to sign the measure into law before he travels to Japan by Mid-December.
"Two weeks na lang tayo sa plenary. I think Dec. 13 or 14 yung last day namin. Definitely, by then dapat matapos na natin dahil aalis din si Presidente (We will stay in the plenary in about two weeks. Our last day I think will be on Dec. 13 or 14. Definitely, by then we should have finalized it because the President will travel). I think he's going to Japan sometime mid-December. So, gusto natin mapirmahan (We want it signed before)," Angara noted. (PNA)