Estrada refutes report 9 senators want OVP, DepEd confidential funds back

(CNN) Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — Senator Jinggoy Estrada condemned a news report that claimed he along with eight other senators voted in favor of returning the ₱125-million confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) of the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education.

“We never voted with regard to all the intelligence or confidential funds,” Estrada said during Tuesday’s plenary session. “In fact, we agreed unanimously to remove all CIF. Not only of OVP and DepEd, but all civilian agencies with CIF.”

Aside from Estrada, the report alleged senators Robin Padilla, Christopher “Bong” Go, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Lito Lapid, Francis Tolentino, Cynthia Villar, and Pia Cayetano as supporters of reinstating the CIF of the Sara Duterte-led offices.

Senators agreed to let the ethics committee investigate the source of the report, which purportedly came from a closed-door meeting.

“I wish to tell the people that there was no votation that happened… I do not know who among our colleagues who leaked our conversation with this media outlet,” Estrada said. “This is the first time I encountered a scoop or leakage. This is a violation of our rules.”

According to the Senate rules, a senator who would violate the confidentiality of an executive session can be expelled. At the same time, the involvement of an employee or official of the Senate could lead to dismissal.

The Senate will begin on Wednesday its debates on the ₱5.768 trillion national budget for 2024.

CNN Philippines’ Eimor Santos contributed to this story.