Philippines: Diversion of Intelligence Funds for Election Campaign Denounced

Apr. 23, 2007

MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel,
Jr. (PDP-Laban) today denounced a reported order of
Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno
authorizing provincial governors and city/municipal
mayors to release and utilize intelligence funds from
their respective local budgets in excess of the limit
prescribed under the Local Government Code.

Noting that the order came while the election campaign
is coming to the homestretch, Pimentel said he could
see no other purpose behind the patently illegal order
except to put available public funds at the disposal
of the local government executives that they can use
for electioneering or vote-buying purposes.

He urged Secretary Puno to revoke the order and spare
himself from the risk of being held criminally liable
for a funding irregularity.

Puno should recall the order that would allow local
chief executives to disburse intelligence funds beyond
what the law allows, because he does not have the
authority to do so. Only Congress cam change and
increase the limit prescribed by law. And if he
persists in doing so, he runs the risk of being sued
for plunder, the minority leader said.

Identifying Davao del Sur Rep. Douglas Cagas as the
source of this information, Pimentel said the
administration, which boasts that about 90 percent of
incumbent local officials are its allies, is
apparently hell-bent on working for the victory of the
Team Unity senatorial and congressional and local
candidates at all costs.

They are tapping all available sources of funds that
can be diverted to the election campaign. And the
objective is clear: to ensure the victory of the
candidates of Team Unity in the national and local
levels, he said.

Pimentel said the administrations formula for victory
is based on the belief that if they give money to
voters, they will repay it back with their votes,
which is supposedly part of the deeply-ingrained
political culture of the Filipinos.

However, he strongly doubted whether local political
allies can be relied upon to deliver the so-called
command votes by persuading their constituents to vote
for administration senatorial and congressional

Pimentel cited a recent Social Weather Stations survey
showing that most of the voters would cast their votes
based on their own choices, rather than follow the
dictation of their local political leaders. The SWS
survey also found out the strong preference of voters
for opposition, rather than administration candidates.

He said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as she did
in past elections, is expected to raid the funds of
the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor),
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), as
well as Philhealth, the road users tax, agriculture
modernization funds, Presidents Social Fund and
discretionary and confidential funds at her disposal
to promote her candidates.

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