It’s a fact that the most tantalizing lure that draws politicians and public servants to government is what everyone knows as ‘intelligence fund.’ This is the same bounty local politicians die for. Prescribed by law not to be audited, it is the bacon for corruption.
Recently, the matter of intelligence fund grabbed the headlines after defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana abrogated his office’s accord with the University of the Philippines (UP) and insinuated the university campus has been an epicenter of rebel recruitment.
To add fuel to military noise, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) days later posted on its Facebook account the names of 27 people, purportedly UP alumni recruited by the New People’s Army and killed or capture by government forces.
But to AFP’s eternal shame, some of those classified as captured or killed have not been affiliated, even by sympathy, with insurgency or arrested due to seditious initiatives. In the list were media people, past public officials, lawyers, educators, and showbiz characters.
UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo hit the nail on its head when he said that ‘despite the millions of taxpayers” money poured into military intelligence, the AFP [has been] making such baseless accusations.”
The gaffe was even more disturbing because it could have been avoided. With so much intelligence money to spend and an expanded manpower to conduct surveillance, the oversight meant there was no sharing of information and there was lack of counterchecking. Sec. Lorenzana called the blunder ‘an unpardonable lapse.’ Consequently, two major generals took the blame for the flawed list.
To university stalwarts, the roster was a poorly prepared propaganda devised to create chaos and instill fear. UP has never been a rebel hotbed. With the UP-DND accord abrogated, the AFP should be consoled that their faulty impression may be coming true.
In 2020, the biggest share of intel pie went to the Office of the President, nearly the same amount the AFP had, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) collectively received. In summary, the OP got around P2.3 billion, much bigger than the P1.7 billion the Department of National Defense (DND) got the previous year. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), meanwhile, with the PNP under it, got only around P800 million.
The 2019 figures show the DND-AFP intel funds were divided as follows: Office of the Defense Secretary, P10 million; Philippine Army, P444 million; Philippine Air Force, P17 million; Philippine Navy, P39.7 million; and General Headquarters, P1.18 billion. On the other hand, the Department of Transportation, with control over the PCG, got a measly P10 million.