Solon calls out Ombudsman over low confidential fund utilization since 2020

By LLANESCA T. PANTI,GMA Integrated News

House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro on Monday called out the Office of the Ombudsman over the low utilization of its confidential fund, which is yet to reach 50%, since 2020.

Castro cited the following low utilization rate of the Ombudsman’s confidential funds:

“This is just an average of 40% utilization rate the last few years. Can you explain [this]?” the lawmaker said during the House appropriations panel hearing on the Ombudsman’s proposed P4.98 billion budget for 2024, of which 51 million is for a confidential fund.


Ombudsman Samuel Martires, who was named to the post in 2018, replied that his office’s low utilization of confidential funds is deliberate so they can save government funds.

“Kung makakatipid nga po kami, bakit nga ba hindi. Kung kami ay makikisuyo sa intelligence community na di kami gagastos bakit hindi namin gagawin? Kung madadaan sa ngiti ang members ng ISAFP na kinakausap namin na tulungan kami mag-imbestiga, bakit nga ba hindi?” Martires said, referring to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

(If we can save money, why not? If we can ask the intelligence authorities for help without us spending money, why not? If we can only smile at the ISAFP and they decide to help us, why not?)

He then said that Congress can reduce the agency’s confidential fund by P20 million and realign it to the Maintenance Operating and Other Expenses of the anti-graft body for 2024.

“Puwede ninyo bawasan ng bente [milyon]. As I have said, we would survive with a small amount you [will] give us,” Martires said.

(You can reduce our confidential fund by P20 million.)

“Kung makikisuyo kami sa intelligence community [sa pamamagitan] ng isang tasang kape, maraming kapeng barako sa opisina namin, gagawin po namin,” he added.

(If we can tap the help of the intelligence community over a cup of brewed coffee which we have a lot of supply in our office, then we will do that.)

Castro, however, said that the confidential fund is being given to agencies, especially the Ombudsman, to support its mandate in investigating and prosecuting corrupt government officials.

“You have mentioned that investigations take too long. If you have confidential fund, you don’t save it. Dapat gamitin ito kasi hindi ito puwede gamitin sa iba (You should use this fund since it cannot be used for other budget items),” she said.

“Kung nagsasave po tayo, nakokompormiso po ang mga programa [ng inyong opisina] (If you are saving this fund, then you are compromising your mandate),” Castro added.—AOL, GMA Integrated News