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Ombudsman seeks bigger budget

/ 07:45 AM October 08, 2014
Conchita Carpio-Morales

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales: Picayune. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Given the sheer number of big corruption cases it is investigating, the Office of the Ombudsman will hardly be able to make do with the budget it is being given for 2015, according to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

Morales on Tuesday asked Congress for an additional P160 million in 2015, to include P10 million for a confidential fund it would need to fast-track its investigation and build-up of high profile cases and complaints.

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The rest of the P160 million would consist of P50 million for supplies, materials and professional services needed, and P100 million to construct an Ombudsman office in Mindanao.

Morales said the additional amount was “picayune” compared to the budget of other government offices. The Office of the Ombudsman’s total budget for 2015 is P1.7 billion.

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Morales said the agency needed more confidential funds to uncover evidence of corruption, as the current P3-million allocation was not enough.

“The current budget of P3 million in light of the ongoing investigations relating to grand corruption cases is no longer sufficient to support the conduct of exhaustive and extensive evidence gathering to ascertain the truth, veracity of raw data,” Morales said during the Senate’s hearing on her agency’s budget.

She said that since there were several scams involving almost all departments of the government, her agency’s offices and prosecutors needed an additional P50 million for supplies and materials and to tap experts.

As for the need of an Ombudsman office in Mindanao, she said agency officials had been holding office in a rented “substandard place.”

“Millions are wasted everywhere, elsewhere, and yet here comes the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao trying to carry out its mandate and yet it is holding office in a substandard place,” she said.

The agency had long been asking for funds to build the Mindanao office, but its pleas had been denied.

Morales also asked that a special provision be inserted anew in the 2015 budget to allow the Office of the Ombudsman to use the income it would generate from the fees it collects.

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Sen. Loren Legarda, who chaired the Senate hearing on the Ombudsman budget, said she did not think reinserting the provision would be a problem since a similar proviso had been included in the 2014 budget.

Legarda also said she was supportive of the idea of augmenting the agency’s budget, but she could not promise the additional outlay would be given.

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TAGS: budget, budget hearing, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Ombudsman
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