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LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR BIGGER ALLOCATION

OVP gets smallest share of 2021 budget

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo’s office is getting the smallest slice of the budget pie in the bureaucracy despite receiving the highest audit rating from the Commission on Audit.

Robredo on Monday presented the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) proposed P679-million budget for next year, lower than its current P708-million appropriation after it was slashed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

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“We will make do with what is given to us,” Robredo told the House appropriations committee. Her office originally sought P724 million in funding, including for the purchase of six new vehicles, which was rejected by the DBM.

But Robredo’s supporters in the chamber called for an increase in her budget from 10 percent to as much as double or triple the OVP’s allocation.

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Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. said it was a shame that the OVP was given the “lowest budget allocation in the entire Philippine bureaucracy.”

“It has been engaging in front-line activities and people empowerment, but still, its budget is the smallest in the entire bureaucracy,” he said.

During Monday’s budget hearing, Robredo, a former Camarines Sur congresswoman, personally appealed to lawmakers to at least meet their proposed budget of P724 million —a slight increase from its P708-million budget in 2020 — after the DBM recommended only P679 million for the next fiscal year.

The OVP’s proposed budget is expected to go to pandemic relief and response efforts, as well as livelihood and education programs for marginalized communities.

“Basically, your honors, from our shuttle services, our dormitories, our assistance to communities, all the other things that we have been doing, that is made possible because of collaboration with mostly private partners. So we are confident, your honors, that with our proposed budget next year, we can further expand the work with our partners to contribute to our shared goal of defeating the virus and improving the lives of our people,” she said.

House lawmakers, meanwhile, noted the OVP’s efforts through its Angat Buhay program, as well as its comprehensive response to the pandemic, and sought to negotiate a higher budget for her office to sustain these projects.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez urged his colleagues to increase the OVP budget by P113 million.

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“Giving this P113 million will go a long way in providing funds to OVP to implement its regular programs and its response to COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

But Baguio City Rep. Mark Go went a step further, saying the budget should be doubled, or at least raised to P1 billion. ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said she would support moves to “double or triple” the OVP budget.

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TAGS: 2021 national budget, 2021 OVP budget, DBM, Leni Robredo, Rufus Rodriguez
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