Martires defends Ombudsman confidential fund: Receipts are not required | Inquirer News

Martires defends Ombudsman confidential fund: Receipts are not required

/ 12:35 PM September 11, 2023

Ombudsman Samuel Martires has admitted that he has not submitted any receipts for confidential expenses ever since he was appointed to the post in 2018, noting that doing so would go against the very reason these funds were made secret.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires. INQUIRER file photo / LYN RILLON

MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman Samuel Martires has admitted that he has not submitted any receipts for confidential expenses since he was appointed to the post in 2018, noting that doing so would go against the reason these funds were made secret.

Martires said this on Monday, at the House Committee on Appropriations hearing on the Office of the Ombudsman’s proposed 2024 budget, when ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro asked about the Ombudsman’s confidential funds.


Castro said that, on average, the actual obligation rate of the Office of the Ombudsman is at 40 percent to 45 percent for their confidential fund, which amounted to P33.7 million in 2021, P51 million in 2022, and P31 million for 2023.  According to the lawmaker, she hopes the confidential fund is being utilized properly for investigation purposes.


“So I hope this is being utilized, considering we need to investigate a lot of cases.  So, these confidential funds — can you give us the general stroke, or not specific, expenses so that people would know? Have you submitted receipts to COA, and how often do you submit this for auditing?” Castro asked in Filipino.

“Your honor, please, if you require an agency of government with confidential funds to submit receipts, it is no longer a confidential fund,” Samuel Martires said.

Castro, however, fired back, claiming that Joint Memorandum Circular 2015–01, signed by agencies using confidential funds, states that receipts are required for confidential expenses.

“Mr. Chair, I want to react to that because the joint circular requires that. So we cannot just disregard because we have a joint circular 2015 regarding confidential funds, so it is not funny to say that we are not submitting receipts.  So I beg to disagree, we need to follow that JC 2015,” she claimed.

“My apologies but ever since I became an Ombudsman, nobody has told me to submit receipts because how will we issue receipts to an intelligence officer who I asked to do a certain issue?” Martires asked.

According to Martires, it would be difficult for intelligence officers to liquidate expenses as it might show details of the case they are working on, or it might eventually be a tedious and repetitive practice.


“What receipt would I place there?  How could an intel officer liquidate that to me?  If I get a safe house, you would just express doubts whether I really used a safehouse; maybe that’s just a motel?  I mean, I really don’t know,” Martires added.

“Maybe no intel officer would agree, that after I provide P50,000, he or she would have to liquidate that to me, that every time they ride a taxi […] he has to provide receipts for fuel, and if I liquidate these receipts as my own expense, COA (Commission on Audit) might bar me from claiming gasoline expense because you have your transportation allowance,” he added.

The Ombudsman then suggested that Congress remove that confidential fund if it would be the source of dispute, noting that they can learn how to live without it, maintaining that certification of expenditure is needed as proof that they have spent funds.

“If that is the case that we would quarrel about these confidential funds, then why don’t we just remove this from our budget?  As I said, we can survive, I can continue investigation of cases [by] just smiling at my friends at the ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines), on some other investigation agencies,” Ombudsman Samuel Martires explained.

“So I don’t think a receipt is important.  What is needed is that we make a certification, we issue a certification to the effect that we have spent the confidential fund for purposes of investigation of cases,” he added.

Discussions about confidential funds have been a hot topic recently after opposition lawmakers questioned the need for such funding, especially with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and Department of Education headed by Vice President Sara Duterte.

Castro and the rest of the Makabayan bloc questioned Duterte as to why she had confidential funds in the 2022 OVP budget when the original allocation — created by former vice president Leni Robredo — did not contain any provision for confidential funds.  Eventually, it was discovered that the OVP requested the funds from the Office of the President.

Duterte’s allies maintained that the transfer was above board as a line item for confidential funds under the OVP budget crafted under Robredo.  However, Castro and past OVP personnel maintained that the confidential fund had no allocation and could not be labeled as a line item.


Castro: Quimbo spreading misinformation by claiming secret funds existed for OVP in 2022 

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TAGS: confidential fund, House of Representatives, Ombudsman

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