House panel ends OVP budget talks in under 20 minutes; Makabayan objects
MANILA, Philippines — In less than 20 minutes, the House Committee on appropriations has terminated deliberations on the P2.3 billion proposed budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP).
During the panel’s hearing on Wednesday morning, Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander Marcos moved to terminate discussions on the OVP budget in respect of the long-standing tradition of parliamentary courtesy accorded to high-ranking officials.
It was seconded, but members of the Makabayan bloc objected to the motion, leading to a vote. Ultimately, 21 panel members voted to end the OVP budget deliberations.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro tried to explain her vote, but presiding officer and appropriations senior vice chairperson Davao de Oro 1st District Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora maintained that the hearing had been terminated.
Vice President Sara Duterte was present during the budget discussions, while committee senior vice chairperson and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo initially presided over the hearing.
Members of the Makabayan bloc asserted on Tuesday that Duterte and OVP officials present should be asked to answer questions on the controversial use of confidential funds in 2022, as the supposed budget for the agency did not contain any.
Last August 25, Castro said they are mulling the filing of an impeachment complaint against Duterte, as they believe P125 million of OVP’s budget in 2022 was illegally realigned to confidential expenses.
Castro arrived at this conclusion because the office crafted the 2022 OVP budget under former vice president Leni Robredo, and it did not contain any confidential fund.
Officials from Robredo’s OVP have confirmed this, saying that they have never requested confidential funds.