OMBUDSMAN Samuel R. Martires has asked Congress to reduce the proposed P51.47-million confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) for his office in 2024 to only P1 million, standing firm on the ability of his office to function without it.

“Consistent with my earlier pronouncement on the matter (confidential funds), I would like to officially request that notwithstanding its investigative functions, the Office of the Ombudsman be appropriated the amount of P1 million for its confidential and intelligence fund in fiscal years 2024 and 2025,” Ombudsman said in separate letters dated Oct. 6 addressed to Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara and Party-list Repo. Elizaldy S. Co.

In a Senate hearing on the office’s budget, Mr. Martires said his office’s operations and investigative functions will not be diminished if the CIF allocation is taken away.

“If it will only taint the reputation of the Office and of the Ombudsman itself and its officers, I am even willing that this be scrapped,” he said at the hearing on Sept. 27.

Broken down, the Ombudsman’s budget for next year of P5.05 billion would have P1.3 billion to hire more employees; P76.87 million for pension benefits; P392.22 million for capital outlay requirements; and P389.63 million for retirement and other forms of benefits. — John Victor D. Ordoñez