Gov’t asked about costly intel, confidential funds amid possible terror attack warned by Japan

September 17, 2021 - 3:36 PM
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Photograph from REUTERS

Questions were raised about the use of the billions worth of intelligence fund budget after the defense secretary sought help from Japan about a possible terror plot.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana previously admitted in a briefing that the authorities already contacted Japan’s defense attaché to provide more details about this potential threat.

“Kino-contact na natin ang defense attaché nila sa Pilipinas. Di pa nagfi-feedback. Dapat malaman natin ang details ng sinasabing attack, ang basehan niyan, saan galing ang report, kailan nangyari ang report, sino ang kumuha,” Lorenzana said on September 16.

“Napakaraming tanong na dapat masagot ng Japan na nag-issue ng warning. Meron na tayong efforts through the Japanese Embassy,” he added.

In a statement sent via email to Philippine News Agency, the Japanese Embassy in Manila addressed its citizens that their government received an intelligence report about a possible terror attack in six countries in Asia, including the Philippines.

The other countries are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.

“We confirm that the Japanese government has received information about a possible terror attack, but we cannot give you any detailed background at the moment. In relation to this, we issued a warning to alert Japanese people residing in some Southeast Asian countries, but we cannot disclose the source,” it said.

The Embassy did not disclose any other details in the message, the PNA reproted.

In response, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of Foreign Affairs stated that they have not yet monitored or received any such threats in the country.

On the Intel funds

The Japanese Embassy’s advisory immediately stirred worry online.

Some Filipinos also asked how the hefty budget allotted to the Duterte administration’s confidential and intelligence funds were spent.

“Bilyon bilyon intel funds natin tapos makikichismis lang tayo sa intel ng Japan?” one user said.

“Gov’t intel fund amounting to P4.5 billion pesos where?” another user asked.

“PH gov’t allocated billions (they cut down health, agriculture and education fund) for INTEL fund and the gov’t had no idea and they had to hear it from Japan and I see no sense of urgency,” another user wrote.

In general, both types of expenditures are dedicated to intelligence-gathering activities of government agencies in relation to national security.

They differ on the specific groups of people the money was allocated to.

Intelligence funds are for uniformed and military personnel and intelligence practitioners. Confidential funds, meanwhile, are for civilian government agencies.

Under the national budget for 2021, the Office of the President’s intelligence and confidential expenses received the highest allocation with P4.5 billion.

This was also the same amount the OP received for these expenditures in 2020.

In 2019, the Commission on Audit annual financial report stated that P6.12 billion were spent on intelligence funds and another P2.57 billion for confidential funds.

Other online users, meanwhile, also mentioned the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 that was signed into law to protect Filipinos from terrorists both inside and outside the country.

This was stated in section 4 of the law, wherein: “Terrorism is committed by any person who, within or outside the Philippines, regardless of the stage of execution.”

“This just proved that the anti-terror law is literally just used to shut down activists, the billions of intelligence funds for that but they didn’t even know about a possible terror attack?” a Twitter user said.