House panel okays OP 2024 budget in less than 40 minutes | Inquirer News

House panel okays OP 2024 budget in less than 40 minutes

House panel okays OP 2024 budget in less than 40 minutes

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin (FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — The House appropriations committee on Tuesday took less than 40 minutes to approve the proposed P10.707-billion budget of the Office of the President (OP) for next year despite an attempt by the three-member Makabayan bloc to question it.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin led the presentation of the proposed budget, which included P4.56 billion in confidential and intelligence funds.


Abra Rep. Ching Bernos afterward moved to terminate the briefing “as part of the long-standing tradition and practice of the House to extend parliamentary courtesy to the OP.”


But House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of the Makabayan bloc objected and asked that they be allowed to manifest their reasons.

Unlike last week’s deliberations on the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) P2.38 billion proposed 2024 budget during which Castro’s microphone was switched off, she and the other Makabayan lawmakers, House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Rep. Raoul Danniel Manuel, were given two minutes each to air their sentiments.

‘Worrisome trend’

Castro said it was only right that the House open the OP’s proposed budget to deliberations as it was their duty to express the concerns of their constituents on the use of public funds.

“We owe it to them to explain how we spend every centavo that they entrust to us,” she added.

Castro cited the OP’s P4.56-billion request for confidential and intelligence funds and the “worrisome trend” of increasing requests for the allocation of secret funds, contrary to the policies of transparency and full disclosure in the use of taxpayer money.

Manuel also flagged the OP’s request for a P1.408-billion travel fund for next year.


Brosas noted that as the House panel was deliberating on the OP’s proposed funding for 2024, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was in Indonesia for yet another foreign trip.

Other basic goods, too

She urged Marcos to also impose price ceilings on other basic goods, scrap the excise fuel tax, and push for a significant wage hike for workers.

The Makabayan lawmakers also pushed for an end to the “abused” tradition of parliamentary courtesy that allowed the OP and OVP to breeze through the House committee’s budget deliberations.

They cited the “irregularities and questionable allocations” in the OVP’s confidential funds for 2022, and the OP’s role in its release, saying the tradition was being used by the majority to shield the country’s highest officials from scrutiny.

It was the Makabayan bloc that first questioned the P125-million confidential expenses in 2022 of Vice President Sara Duterte’s office despite the lack of funding for it in the 2022 General Appropriations Act.

It was later learned that the Department of Budget and Management transferred P221.424 million to the OVP in December 2022, with the OP’s approval. This included P125 million in confidential funds and P96.424 million in financial assistance or subsidy funds.

The Office of the Executive Secretary defended the OP’s release of P221 million to Duterte’s office in 2022.

“Under Special Provision No. 1, the President is authorized to approve releases to cover funding requirements of new or urgent activities of NGA (national government agencies), among others, that need to be implemented during the year,” it said.


OVP’s proposed P2.3B budget for 2024 OK’d by Senate panel, keeps P500M CIF

House panel ends OVP budget talks in under 20 minutes; Makabayan objects

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Lost transparency: Makabayan raps ‘shielding’ of Sara Duterte from OVP budget queries

TAGS: 2024 national budget, 2024 OP budget, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Office of the President

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