MANILA, Philippines - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales will soon be riding in the comfort and security of a brand new bullet-proof vehicle worth P8.5 million.
The Office of the Ombudsman, in the annual procurement plan for 2013 posted in the anti-graft agency’s website, said the vehicle would be used by “OMB Proper,” which refers to Morales’ office.
Such purchase appears to be in reaction to last year’s incident when an M-26 hand grenade encased in a canister was found outside the house of the retired Supreme Court magistrate.
The STAR sources said the purchase process is still in the works with various suppliers or dealers expected to join the bidding.
The seven-page annual procurement plan, which revealed that the Office of the Ombudsman has a budget of P295.72 million this year, states that the bullet-proof vehicle should have already been bought as of May 2013 but the procurement apparently suffered delays.
Sources also said the anti-graft agency’s bullet-proof vehicle for Morales would be a Toyota Land Cruiser based on recommendations from the Presidential Security Group.
Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management, through the Office of the Executive Secretary, approved the procurement.
The grenade found outside Morales’ house in May 2012 had a note that said “Pang densa kay CCM – nagmalakit.” The meaning of the message remains a mystery.
The incident happened at the height of the impeachment trial of then chief justice Renato Corona in which Morales – then a Supreme Court associate justice – testified against the chief magistrate.
According to Morales, it was then interior secretary Jesse Robredo who had suggested that she reinforce her security even if she had dismissed such threats as part of the risks she faces as ombudsman.
“I’m a fatalist. If it’s your time, it’s your time, so I know I’m in the embrace of God because I know I have not done anything wrong,” she said.
Some ombudsman employees agree that Morales, considering the dangers of her job of fighting graft and corruption in government, should have tight security.
Others believe, however, that a bullet-proof vehicle is too costly for an agency supposedly exercising financial prudence to the point of doing away with a lavish anniversary celebration last month.