Multibillion confidential funds

This article is available in Pilipino

Hogging the headlines over the past weeks are the “confidential and intelligence funds” (CIF) for Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Sara Duterte and 22 other state agnecies for the next year. Marcos will get ₱4.85 billion in CIF next year while Sara Duterte will get ₱650 million.

Recall that in 2022, Marcos Jr committed barefaced corruption when he transferred ₱221.4 million from his presidential “contingent fund” to Sara Duterte’s office. From this amount, the vice president allotted ₱125 million for “confidential funds” which, according to documents, were spent in only 19 days—or ₱17 million per day. Because the funds are “confidential”, their exact purposes are not made public.

CIF are not new. But despite people’s protests, it has continuously increased over the past decades. In 2001, under Gloria Arroyo, the entire CIF was ₱959.5 million. It ballooned during Rodrigo Duterte’s term to ₱1.7 billion in 2016, and further to ₱6.88 billion in 2017. The 2024 ₱10.14 CIF is 957% larger compared to that in 2001.

The reactionary government’s CIF is patterned after the US government’s so- called “black budget”. Use of the black budget is deliberately hidden from the public because it usually funds the government’s illegal operations.

In the Philippines, this is used in “delicate security operations,” like the construction of “safe houses”, “informant” fees, purchase or rental of vehicles for “special operations” and others related to heinous crimes like extrajudicial killings, arrests and detention. In Sara’s case, this is also being used for surveillance and monitoring against the teachers’ union and student activists. Because unaudited, these funds easily end up in officials’ pockets, both in the civil bureaucracy and military.

Multibillion confidential funds