Ombudsman Samuel Martires has formally asked the Senate and the House of Representatives to significantly decrease the P51-million confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) allocated to his office to P1-million under the proposed 2024 national budget.
“Consistent with my earlier pronouncement before your committee, I would like to officially request that notwithstanding its investigative functions, that the Office of the Ombudsman be appropriated the amount of P1-million for its confidential and intelligence fund (CIF) in FYs 2024 and 2025 or until the end of my term of office as Ombudsman,” Martires said.
Martires said the same in his letter to Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Elizady Co. head of the House Committee on Appropriations. A copy of his letter was also sent to House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri.
Senators earlier commended the Ombudsman’s decision as a symbolic act that other agencies should emulate.
The Ombudsman’s decision came at the heels of the House’s decision to realign the confidential funds from the Office of the Vice President, Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT, Department of Agriculture (DA), and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to agencies in charge of national security.
During the Senate’s deliberation into the Ombudsman’s budget, Martires said the Ombudsman can fulfill its investigative mandate even without a huge amount of CIF.
“If you just rely only on your confidential or intelligence funds for you to be able to investigate, you will not be able to function properly,” Martires said.
“I can always smile at my friends and probably treat them for a cup of coffee,” he said.