Contrary to recent news reports, neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate of the Philippines had confidential or intelligence funds in the 2019 budget.

The 2019 Annual Financial Report (AFR) for the National Government cited in the news reports shows that the Congress of the Philippines had no confidential and intelligence expenses incurred for the year ended 31 December 2019. While appearing under the sub-major account category Confidential, Intelligence and Extraordinary Expenses prescribed under the Revised Chart of Accounts for National Government Agencies, the P3.98 Billion entry clearly refers to the item “Extraordinary and Miscellaneous Expenses”. The AFR clearly shows that the Congress of the Philippines did not incur any Confidential or Intelligence expenses in 2019.

Extraordinary and Miscellaneous Expenses, as provided under Section 47 of the General Provisions of the FY 2019 General Appropriations Act include, but are not limited to, expenses incurred for various activities such as meetings, seminars and conferences; office equipment and supplies; public relations; educational, athletic and cultural activities; subscription to professional, technical journals and informative magazines, library book and materials; and other similar expenses not supported by the regular budget allocation.

The sub-major account category Confidential, Intelligence and Extraordinary Expenses refer to three general ledger accounts: confidential expenses (related to surveillance activities in civilian government agencies), intelligence expenses (related to intelligence information gathering activities of uniformed, military personnel and intelligence practitioners), and extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses (incidental to the performance of official functions).

The Revised Chart of Accounts was adopted to conform to the International Public Sector Accounting Standards.