Senate panel approves CoA, Ombudsman’s proposed budget

The Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday approved the 2023 proposed budget for the Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman, amounting to P13.8 billion and P4.781 billion, respectively.

During the Senate hearing, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara asked state auditors how much and what items were slashed in their proposed budget by the Department of Budget and Management under the National Expenditure Program for 2023.

Assistant Commissioner Roland Pondoc said there was a P455 million decrease for personal services and a P268 million decrease in the proposed budget for its maintenance and other operating expenses.

“The total decrease is P723 million. And that is why we’re requesting this honorable committee if we could restore the P723 million in our budget,” Pondoc said.

He reiterated the need to restore the budget cut in their proposed budget, citing that it will affect the operations of the state auditing body.

Angara said he would look into the matter.

“We will do our best… We acknowledge your request and also to place in the record that this committee, the Senate, has increased the CoA budget for the last four years and probably even longer,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Ombudsman will receive the same amount of budget under the NEP.

Under the proposed P5.268 trillion national budget for 2023, the Ombudsman will receive P4.781 billion.

Likewise, Angara asked Ombudsman Samuel Martires what items were slashed by the DBM.

Martires said his office originally asked for an additional budget of over P6 billion; however, he ultimately decided not to do so, explaining that he understands the present predicament of the country.

“It will be hard for the Appropriations Committee to give us an additional budget of P6-something billion. Just to maintain the P4.7 billion that will be given this year, we’ll be happy with that,” he said.

“We refused to ask. I understand. We do not want to give you a problem with where to get the additional funds. I know that there are more important projects of the government that must be funded,” he added.

However, the official requested that special provisions in the General Appropriations Act be included that will allow the anti-graft body to use its savings and income.

The proposed budgets of the two agencies have been submitted for plenary debates.

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