THE Office of the Ombudsman stands to keep 30 percent of ill-gotten assets sequestered by the government, as proposed in an enabling legislation authored by Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero.
Escudero’s Senate Bill (SB) 292, once enacted into law, will allow the Office of the Ombudsman to retain it least 30 percent of the value of the ill-gotten assets acquired from the forfeiture cases that government won in courts against corrupt public officials in what was billed to augment the financial resources of the country’s graft busters.
Under SB 292, Escudero sought to “raise hopes to give more funds to the Office of the Ombudsman to help its employees effectively perform their function and mandate,” underscoring the importance of the role they play in weeding out corruption in public office.
The senator noted that “funding is a major limitation to the Office of the Ombudsman when fulfilling its mandate of combating corruption,” pointing out that the budget of the Office of the Ombudsman pales in comparison with those allocated to its international counterparts.”
Consequently, he deplored that “corruption goes unhampered eventually leading to massive losses in government revenues, further draining our coffers.”
“This bill intends to augment the financial resources of the Ombudsman by giving it a share in any property forfeited in favor of the State under Republic Act [RA] 1379 [Forfeiture Law] and, thus, increase its funding,” the senator said. “It provides a mechanism wherein 30 percent of the value of forfeited assets shall be used as funding for the Ombudsman which will assist the continued progress of cases.”
Escudero stressed that institutionalizing the fixed percentage by amending RA 1379 will “ensure additional funding to the Ombudsman and eliminate the need to reallocate funding from an “already stretched national budget.” He said SB 292 recognizes “the importance of helping the Ombudsman in fulfilling its mandate of combating corruption by giving them a share of the government properties acquired from the Forfeiture law.”
The Escudero bill further proposes that the forfeited asset shall be sold at public auction and the proceeds, after deducting the 30 percent for the Ombudsman, shall accrue to the General Fund. It, however adds that the enabling measure is still pending before the Committee on Justice and Human Rights chaired by Sen. Francis “Tol” N. Tolentino.