Senate panel to restore ₱45-million reduced from OVP’s proposed 2021 budget

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) — A Senate panel plans to restore about ₱45-million slashed from the proposed 2021 budget of the Office of the Vice President after Vice President Leni Robredo asked for reconsideration of their original proposal.

During a budget hearing on Wednesday, which only lasted for around 20 minutes, the members of the Senate Committee on Finance expressed keenness to approve the ₱723.39-million budget proposal of the OVP. Senator Sonny Angara, who chairs the panel, noted it is the fastest discussion on budget proposals they have had so far.

"The committee will consider this favorably at the proper time when we tackle the amendments. But this early, I think it is clear that the support will be overwhelming for the increase in the Office of the Vice President's budget," Angara said.

Angara added the Vice President is “very deserving” to receive a higher allocation since her “programs have helped many Filipinos.”

For his part, Senator Franklin Drilon said, “I think there is enough justification for us to reinstate about ₱45 million, which was originally submitted to the DBM but was not included in the National Expenditure Program,” a manifestation supported by Senators Kiko Pangilinan, Nancy Binay, Lito Lapid and Bong Revilla.

Pangilinan, who like Drilon is Robredo’s ally, noted that the OVP deserves to get the budget it initially asked for, citing the office’s accomplishments and high audit ratings. 

"Based on the COA reports and based on the reports of the vice president, clearly these resources are put to good use," he said.

The Department of Budget of Management has only allocated ₱679.74 million to Robredo’s office under the National Expenditure Program. The DBM has not approved their proposal to spend money on office vehicles as well as research and development, Robredo said during the hearing.

Robredo noted they have six vehicles, which need to be replaced, as they cannot be used anymore.

“For our relief operations, we have been using the private vehicles of our staff. That is not a problem as far as our staff is concerned but the problem there is we could not charge for gasoline. So that is out-of-pocket [expense] already,” the Vice President pointed out.