Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday her office would expand relief work with its private partners and gave assurance to help more Filipinos in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Robredo appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance via videoconference for the deliberations on her office’s proposed budget for 2021.
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) originally asked for a budget of P723.39 million next year, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved only P679.74 million.
“We are confident that with the proposed budget for OVP next year, we can further expand the work with our partners, to contribute to our shared goals of defeating the virus and improving the lives of our people,” she said.
The vice president gave an overview before the Senate panel her office has been doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Robredo noted her office has focused its attention on providing COVID-19 needs from its anti-poverty initiatives under Angat Buhay that so far assisted 558,000 families and individuals nationwide.
”With the onset of COVID-19, we quickly shifted our focus to COVID response activities, addressing one gap after another, leveraging the same power of collaboration,” she said.
Robredo said her team has extended various forms of assistance to frontliners from giving them personal protective equipment, food and self-care packs to operating free shuttle services in Metro Manila and Cebu.
“Our latest initiatives focus on helping with preparations for the start of the school year under blended learning, and contributing to economic recovery,” she told senators.
Robredo cited they had launched the job matching platform Sikap.PH and Iskaparate.com, where small business owners can promote their products in the online market.
Under the Bayanihan E-skwela program, the OVP spearheaded a gadget donation drive, set up learning hubs in communities, and produced instructional videos for distance learning.
With these, senators at the hearing said they would support Robredo’s request to restore some P44 million to the OVP’s original 2021 budget proposal.
“Lahat po ng nagsalita ay in favor of augmenting the Vice President’s budget—and I think she’s very deserving and her programs help many Filipinos,” Senate Finance Committee chair Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said.