By Ben Rosario
It took the House Committee on Appropriations a mere ten minutes to approve the proposed 2019 budget of the Office of the President and five minutes more to agree on the Office of the Vice President’s 2019 allocation.
But unlike the five minute difference, the proposed 2019 budget for the nation’s most powerful offices are billions apart and glaringly separated by plus and minus signs.
The appropriation panel approved almost instantaneously a P6,773,939,000 budget for President Rodrigo Duterte’s office. The amount represents a P742,939,000 or12.32 percent increase from the expenditure schedule of P6,031,010,000.
On the other hand, Vice President LeniRobredo, who was present at yesterday’s budget hearing, was granted a total of P455,853,000 budget for 2019, which is far lower than her request of P557,627,000.
The current allocation enjoyed by the OVP is P550,990,000 or a drop of P95.137 million.
Robredo said the budgetary reduction will have a negative impact on her office’s livelihood program for the poor and the countryside.
Lending support to the OP budget hearing was former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who joined the appropriations panel’s quick deliberation.
Nearly all Liberal Party lawmakers came to the budget deliberation in a show of solid support for Robredo’s personal defense of the OVP budget.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who led OP’s defense of its 2019 allocation, said the biggest expenditure increase is for maintenance and other operating expenses at P517,411,000 or an 11.09 percent increase from the P4,666,661,000 allocation in 2018.The 2019 MOOE proposal is P5,184,072,000.
Personnel Service expenditures were also adjusted from 2018’s P994,159,000 to P1,078,204,000 in 2019 or an P84,045,000 hike.
Capital outlay for OP also increased from P370,190,000 in 2018 to P511,663,000 in 2019 or an increase of P141,473,000.
For the OVP, reductions were glaring for capital outlay that showed the 2018 budget of P11,340,000 going down to a mere P3 million representing a 73.54 percent decrease.
MOOE also went down from P449,029,000 to P350,122,000 or P22.03 percent.
Robredo appealed for the restoration of the P103.347 million and the inclusion of the line item budget of P5.63 million to cover the Special Duty Allowance for the security personnel assigned to her office.