Ombudsman’s 2024 budget of P5.05B gets Senate panel nod
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate committee on finance on Wednesday passed the Office of the Ombudsman’s proposed P5.050 billion budget, which includes the P51-million confidential fund, for 2024.
Panel head Senator Sonny Angara moved to terminate their deliberations on the Ombudsman’s spending plan for next year, but said the move is “without prejudice to any possible augmentation.”
The Office of the Ombudsman’s funding proposal takes .0875 percent of the total P5.768 trillion national expenditure program for 2024 – the second full-year budget of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.
The Ombudsman’s P51.468 million secret fund for 2024 is part of its P79.806 million allocation for “additional operating requirements.”
But before its panel approval, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III expressed surprise during the hearing that the Office of the Ombudsman has a confidential budget.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires said that while they were granted a secret fund, the Senate may reduce or even remove it “if it will only taint the reputation of the office and of the Ombudsman itself and the officers.”
“I am even willing that this be scrapped,” he said.
Pimentel commended Martires’ remark, calling it a “symbolic act.” He likewise said the Ombudsman’s pronouncement may encourage other agencies not involved in enforcing penal laws and securing national security to let go of their requested confidential and intelligence funds.
This prompted Martires to wonder why confidential funding has become such an issue. To which Pimentel retorted:
“It’s because dumami na ang nagre-request at lumalaki ng sobra ang halaga (the number of requests has increased and the amount is growing too much).”
“Those are the two reasons, at idagdag na natin ang pangatlo: Mahirap ang buhay ng tao ngayon that’s why sensitive sila sa money and use of money,” Pimentel explained.
(Those are the two reasons, and let’s add the third: People’s lives are complicated today; that’s why they are sensitive to money and the use of money.)