Senators OK OVP’s budget at committee level, vow to increase it
MANILA, Philippines — The budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for 2022 was approved by the Senate committee on finance, with senators vowing to grant the office’s request for an increase in funding.
The budget was approved in just less than 20 minutes after Vice President Leni Robredo was queried about some things about her budget, like Senate Minority floor leader Franklin Drilon’s questions on how OVP’s private partnership works.
Senators present in the hearing were united about increasing OVP’s budget given that the Commission on Audit has given it the highest audit rating possible for three straight years already.
“We note that the national expenditure program reduced by P223 million the budget compared to last year, and I would like to think that there should be no strong objection from any member of the Senate on the restoration of this P223 million, which was principally used for projects on a very meager budget,” Drilon told committee chair Senator Sonny Angara.
In reply, Angara said that history would show that the Senate has been very supportive of OVP’s budget, especially with the work it does amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yes, certainly Minority leader, I think in the past years the Senate has always look kindly upon the budget of the Vice President, and she has many supporters in the chamber, and seeing how she has utilized the budget and the COA is always kind of cleared the usage of funds by the OVP, so I think that trend should continue going forward,” Angara said.
“In fact the House has said that they want to increase the OVP budget to a billion which I think is not an unreasonable […] I must state that the support for the increases in the budget of the OVP have been bipartisan, not just coming from the minority which is her party, but also from the Majority leader, also from the Senate President and other senators,” he added.
Robredo said OVP proposed a budget of P714.5 million, and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) made some adjustments to it, eventually ending at a proposal of P713.4 million in the National Expenditures Program.
DBM increased OVP’s proposal for personnel salaries from P135.2 million to P139.5 million, but cut down on capital outlay, from P9.66 million to just P3.66 million. The maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and the funding for the retirement and life insurance premium remained virtually the same.
Still, the proposed budget for 2022 is 21 percent lower than the current year, as OVP was given P908.7 million in 2021.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri vowed to fully support OVP’s budget at the plenary, even saying that the P1 billion would not be enough.
“I am here to give my full support to the budget of the OVP, and if we can give as much as we can, chairman, bitin ‘yong P1 billion, kung pwede pa natin dagdagan you will have my full support on the floor,” Zubiri said.
“You know that we have supported Ma’am Leni ever since the beginning, and we have not waned our support for our Vice President, and we continue to support her. And whatever budget that she needs Mr. Chairman, you will have my support together with the Minority,” he added.
Robredo’s OVP has been engaged in anti-poverty programs partnering with the private sector even before 2020, but it became even more busy with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the early part of the health crisis, OVP provided free shuttles and free dormitories for frontline workers after the entire Luzon was placed on a lockdown. The office transformed its operation in 2021 due high COVID-19 surges, now focusing on telemedicine consultations and drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations.
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