House can realign appropriations, including CIFs

Davao del Sur Lone District Rep. John Tracy Cagas

The House of Representatives has the power to realign items of appropriation in the proposed national budget, including confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs), Davao del Sur Lone District Rep. John Tracy Cagas today said.

“There’s no question about it. The Congress, particularly the House, where the national budget bill originates, possesses that power. It is granted by the Constitution,” he said.

“The limitation to that power is that the Congress, to use the language of the Constitution, ‘may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the government as specified in the budget’,” he said.

He added that such authority is also delimited by the President’s veto power.

Cagas pointed out that the House of Representatives and the Senate have been exercising their power of appropriation and realignment every year that they pass the national budget.

“I am sure that we stand on solid constitutional ground in making adjustments in the budget. We are ready to face any challenge in the proper forum,” he said.

The House has realigned some CIFs of civilian offices, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Vice President, and Department of Education to agencies in charge of the country’s security and territorial integrity in the wake of the worsening situation in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Some funds were also allocated to Pag-asa Island in the WPS to show the country’s resolve in developing this remote area, which is part of Palawan.

In making these budgetary adjustments, Cagas said the House was guided not only by its constitutional power of appropriation and realignment but by the vigorous clamor from the concerned agencies and the affected sectors, including fishermen and local officials, for more funding support for the protection of the country’s interests, security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

Besides, he said the agencies, including the OVP, have historically not  been receiving CIFs “because they are not concerned with national security.”