Drilon misses ‘confidential fund queen’ by skin of teeth

By Alex P. Vidal

“People say I’m extravagant because I want to be surrounded by beauty. But tell me, who wants to be surrounded by garbage?”—Imelda Marcos

VICE President Sara Duterte-Carpio probably thinks the taxpayers’ money grows on trees, and it is in the behest of high-ranking public officials like her who want to custody a big chunk of it “confidentially.”

She has to be stopped. She has to be told what is moral and immoral about using the hard-earned money in the form of taxes paid by the hoi polloi.

It’s not even a question anymore whether it is legal; it’s already a question about conscience and the values of our highest elected officials.

And the legislators should put a brake on her unrestrained rampage if President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has become a sitting duck on this brouhaha and too ashamed and weak to tell her, “Hey, that’s enough. The whole nation is watching.”

Only the retirement of former senator Franklin “Frank” Drilon had separated him from doing a heroic rule of saving the taxpayers money from being siphoned off to the new animal called “confidential and intelligence fund” or CIF.

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Like many other fearless and outspoken sentinels of taxpayers money in the legislative body, former senator Franklin “Frank” Drilon missed the chance to confront and educate Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is fast becoming known as the Philippine Government’s “confidential fund queen.”

“Only those agencies involved in gathering intelligence should be given confidential and intelligence funds. That should be the clear standard,” Drilon told ANC’s Headstart on September 7.

“Agencies like DepEd, DOH, DENR, etc. should draw information from intelligence gathering agencies,” said Drilon, citing the armed forces, the Philippine National Police, NBI, among others.

Drilon’s proposal comes in the wake of growing concerns surrounding the allocation and utilization of CIFs, such as to the DepEd which is allocated P150 million under the proposed 2024 spending outlay.

Drilon had earlier questioned the decision of the Office of the President to transfer P221.42 million to the OVP, P125 million of which was classified as confidential funds, even though there was no provision for it in the 2022 budget of the OVP.

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The Ilonggo political leader, who is a former senate president, advised the Senate to convene more regularly the oversight committee on the use of confidential and intelligence funds to review the utilization of the multi-billion funds.

The late former senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Joker Arroyo are no longer around. Unflinching and brilliant former senators Rene Saguisag and Francisco “Kit” Tatad, to name only a few, are already out of power.

Because these illustrious and outstanding anti-graft behemoths weren’t anymore around, Mrs. Duterte-Carpio, who concurrently sits as Department of Education (DepEd) secretary, was able to strike fear in the hearts of some wet-behind-the-ears and spineless senators and representatives who looked helpless as the second highest elected official of the land succeeded to get anther P500 million in “confidential and intelligence fund” or CIF for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) on top of the P221.42 million the OVP amassed in 2022.

And Mrs. Duterte-Carpio wants to run berserk with another hundreds of millions of pesos in CIF for the DepEd.

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In her song, This Masquerade, the late diva and superstar in the 70’s, Karen Carpenter, asked:

Are we really happy with this lonely game we play?

Looking for the right words to say

Searching but not finding understanding anyway

We’re lost in this masquerade

And in their song, Teach Your Children Well, the fabulous Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, averred:

You, who are on the road

Must have a code you try to live by

And so become yourself

Because the past is just a goodbye

Teach your children well

Their father’s hell did slowly go by

Feed them on your dreams

The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by

Mrs. Vice President, hear the melodies.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)

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