House body okays Binay’s budget in 5 minutes
MANILA, Philippines — Other agencies spent hours defending their proposed 2015 budgets before the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives but it took the Office of the Vice President only five minutes.
The team of Vice President Jejomar Binay led by his chief of staff Benjamin Martinez Jr. breezed through the budget deliberations Tuesday night after presenting the OVP’s proposed P222-million budget.
“We’re not asking for anything extra big,” Martinez said toward the end of his presentation.
He was not joking.
At one point, his presentation included an item in the OVP’s meager capital outlay of P2.6 million for the purchase of two motorcycles to replace the “dilapidated” ones currently used by Binay’s security escorts.
But the OVP’s proposed budget for 2015 was actually a tad higher than the P217 million it was allocated in 2014, representing a 2.46 percent increase.
“It’s kind of small, but we make the most out of what’s given to us,” Martinez said.
In contrast, the Office of the President has asked for a budget outlay of P2.57 billion in 2015, slightly lower than this year’s P2.79 billion.
When Martinez was finished with his presentation, appropriations committee chair Isidro Ungab turned to Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio to throw the first question.
“No, Mr. Chair, I did not ask to be listed [to ask questions],” said Tinio, one of the minority lawmakers who has kept agency heads on their toes in the monthlong series of deliberations.
By tradition, a member of the minority enjoys the privilege of being the first to interrogate agency heads in the budget briefings. The first one is given 10 minutes, while the rest, in alternating fashion between majority and minority members, are given 5 minutes each.
Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting remarked that the OVP staff had not even warmed their seats or eaten dinner and the committee was already set to excuse them.
He then said he believed the OVP was one of the agencies that actually deserved an increase in budget allocation, a sentiment that met approving smiles from Binay’s staff.
Also Tuesday night, immediately after the OVP’s briefing, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, on behalf of President Benigno Aquino, presented the OP’s P2.57-billion budget before the same committee.
But unlike the OVP staff, he was grilled by the lawmakers for two hours.
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