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‘Smallest budget in bureaucracy’: Solons push for higher OVP budget

/ 02:34 PM September 14, 2020

Vice President Leni Robredo during the budget hearing at the House of Representatives. Screenshot courtesy of House of Representatives livestream

MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers lobbied for a higher budget for the Office of Vice President Leni Robredo for 2021, with some even proposing that the funding for the second highest office in the country be doubled.

During the hybrid hearing of the House committee on appropriations, Robredo herself presented the proposed budget of her office for 2021.

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Robredo said their office submitted a budget proposal of P720 million, which is the same budget that the OVP had last year. However, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only approved P679 million.

The first one to express intent to increase the budget of the OVP was Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado, saying that Robredo’s office has the “lowest budgetary allocation in the entire Philippine bureaucracy.”

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“It has been engaging in frontline activities against COVID-19. It has also launched livelihood, education, people empowerment and other projects throughout the country, but still, its budget is still the smallest in the entire bureaucracy,” Bordado said.

Bordado said the budget of the OVP should be increased.

“We have to recalibrate the budget allocation considering the number of projects being implemented by the OVP, considering it’s in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. There is an urgent need to increase its budgetary allocation,” Bordado said.

This was echoed by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who said that the OVP has “worked hard” in implementing programs in housing, providing livelihood, and responding to the pandemic.

Rodriguez proposed that the budget of the OVP be increased by 10 percent, on top of the restoration of the P41 million budget slashed from the initial proposal of the office.

“I believe we should restore the budget of the Vice President by P41 million to make it back to P720 million plus I believe that we should not only give P720 million to the Vice President’s office but I believe that we should increase it,” Rodriguez said.

“I would like to suggest or move in some future time that we give at least 10 percent increase in the budget of the Vice President or another P72 million so that—I would like to move is the addition of P113 million, not a big amount considering that our budget is P4.5 trillion and we see the acts of the Vice President, her dedication,” he added.

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Meanwhile, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go proposed an even bigger increase in the funds of the OVP, saying it should be doubled.

“Nakakalungkot, ito ang pinakamaliit na budget sa P4.5 trillion at binawasan pa ng Department of Budget and Management yung kanilang nirekomenda,” Go said.

“Kung si Congressman Rufus ay nagrerecommend ng 10 percent, kung pwedeng gawin nating doble ang budget ng OVP, lalo siyang makakatulong sa ating bansa kung bibigyan natin ng sapat na pondo,” he added.

Go likewise lamented DBM’s move to remove the acquisition of a new vehicle in the proposed 2021 budget.

‘We make do with what we have’

During the hearing, Robredo was asked how the OVP is able to sustain its various projects given its “miniscule appropriation.”

“We make do with what we have. That has always been how it was at the Office of the Vice President. When we started in 2016, we operated with a budget of just over P500 million,” Robredo said.

“It has never paralyzed us from doing the things that we have been doing. As I have said, whatever is given to us, we will make do with that. Of course, we will be able to help more people if we are given funds, but whatever is given to us, we work within that budget,” the Vice President added.

Robredo said the small budget “has never been a hindrance to us,” adding that they also look for private partners for their programs.

Robredo, however, said that it would “help us greatly” if they will be given more funds.

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TAGS: 2021 budget, Leni Robredo, Office of the Vice President
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