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Binay to lawmakers: Scrap P200M in OVP budget for local projects

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Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President  Jejomar Binay on Wednesday asked Congress to scrap the P200 million budget included in next year’s proposed allocation for his office for local projects.

“Effective today, I am formally asking Congress to remove from the 2014 budget of the Office of the Vice President the P200 million appropriation for locally funded projects,” Binay said in a statement in Filipino read by his chief of staff, Benjamin Martinez Jr. during the budget  deliberations by the Senate committee on finance.

“I am aware that my decision will affect some projects like scholarships for the poor but intelligent students, medicines for those in need, and the construction of a building for senior citizens.  But I know that our people will understand.”

Binay, who was not present  at the hearing, said  he decided to give  up  the fund amid his call for the executive department to determine whether or not the  P200 million budget was  considered “pork barrel” funds.

“This is to avoid speculation and politicking on this issue,” he said.

“I am hopeful that with this decision, I can send a message to our people that we in government are always listening to them and that we’re committed to serve faithfully, truthfully and with conviction,” Binay said.

While giving up the fund, Binay said the use of the P200 million  allocation has been scrutinized by the Commission on Audit.

He said the fund did not only  pass the scrutiny of COA but the OVP was also  praised for its prudent use of the amount.

Martinez said the P200 million allottment to the  OVP in 2011 came from the  unutilized  priority PDAF of President Benigno Aquino III when he was still senator and  incorporated  in the office’s regular  budget under the line item  locally funded  projects.

Even Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the committee, found  the  P200 million in Binay’s office “unique” as it was the only office which specifically states that the  use  of such amount should follow the PDAF menu and rules.

“Actually, this is the first time I saw such provision,” Escudero said in Filipino.

The senator  then asked Martinez  if  the  OVP would  like  the amount to be deducted from its   proposed  P414 million budget  next year  or just realign  it for other purposes.

Escudero though said  he would  prefer to have the amount deducted from the proposed P2.268 trillion national budget for 2014 to avoid any doubts or suspicion  that  the  fund would  be realigned to other  agencies.

The lone senator present in the hearing then  moved to approve  the  budget proposal of the OVP and recommended this  for plenary actions.

Related Stories:

Pork-deprived lawmakers zero in on Binay funds

Binay willing to scrap social services fund if considered ‘pork’

Janet Napoles and the pork barrel scam


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Tags: Janet Lim Napoles , Jejomar Binay , Office of the Vice President , OVP , PDAF , Politics , Pork barrel , Priority Development Assistance Fund




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