House approves ₱6.7-B budget for Office of the President, ₱447-M for VP

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FILE PHOTO. The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved the proposed budgets for the offices of the country's two highest officials for 2019.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved the proposed budgets for the offices of the country's two highest officials for 2019.

In just approximately 10 minutes, the committee approved the ₱6.7 billion budget for the Office of the President (OP). This is higher than the OP's current allocation amounting to ₱6.03 billion.

Opposition lawmaker Albay Representative Edcel Lagman made the motion to approve the proposal quickly after the OP presented its plans.

Lagman said doing so has been the tradition at the House of Representatives, but he noted that congressmen can still ask questions once the budget proposal reaches the plenary.

The committee also approved the 2019 budget for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) worth ₱447.68 million. This is almost ₱100 million lower than the OVP's current budget of ₱543.95 million and is also less than the budget proposed by the Department of Budget and Management amounting to ₱455.85 million.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who  presented the budget to the congressmen, said the budget cut would lead to the suspension of their livelihood assistance initiative for some local government units.

"We proposed ₱549 million for 2019. That is just an additional ₱6 million, but what was recommended by the [Department of Budget and Management] is about a hundred million [pesos] less than our budget from last year, which is just ₱447.68 million. That would mean that we would be.. we would not be able to continue with our livelihood assistance to our adopted LGU's and if you look at the records, Mr. Chair and the members of the committee, all our adopted LGUs are the poorest, the farthest, of our communities," the Vice President explained.

With this, Robredo appealed to the lawmakers to just retain the current allocation.

"The additional item in the budget that was given to us for 2018 was a huge help to our communities. So, we would like to make this appeal, Mr. Chair, sana po kahit ibalik lang iyong dati. The office has been used to working within our means pero iyong pagbawas [sa 2019 budget] is really a… it's not for operations, but it's really for livelihood assistance," she said.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas and Robert Vergara contributed to this report.