"What are confidential and intelligence funds? In which government operations can they be used?"
According to a government circular, confidential and intelligence funds are lump sum allocations from the national budget for use in surveillance and intelligence, particularly in the interest of national security. Confidential funds are used by civilian government agencies, while intelligence funds are used by the military and intelligence practitioners.
Due to the nature of the disbursement of these funds, auditing them can be tricky; the Commission on Audit (COA) can only hope that the documents submitted to them by the government officials who avail of these funds are accurate.
And this is why some, including opposition lawmakers, have sounded the alarm on the confidential funds being requested by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte which will be taken from the proposed 2023 national budget. Marcos is asking for P4.5 billion, the same amount that his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, sought during the last year of his presidency. Sara Duterte, meanwhile, is asking for P500 million in confidential funds. By comparison, her predecessor, Leni Robredo, did not ask for any confidential funds during her entire term as vice president. According to Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, Vice President Duterte is in no position to ask for such funds because the Office of the Vice President “is not a surveillance agency and has no jurisdiction over matters of national security.” Opposition lawmakers, including Senator Risa Hontiveros, are looking to realign these sums and subject them to auditing.