The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations quickly terminated on Friday, Sept. 10 the budget deliberation for the office Vice President Leni Robredo with several lawmakers manifesting their intention to push for either the restoration of the almost P200 million cut made by government or increase the proposed amount to P1-billion.
Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. called for a P1 billion allocation in 2022 Robredo’s office as he underscored the need for additional funds for its role “at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.”
Bordado’s proposal drew strong support from Asst. Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago.
Pangasinan Rep. Tyrone Agabas moved for the termination of the budget briefing shortly after Robredo presented the P713.41 million budget proposal for her office.
“We are a small office, and our key to being strategic has always been to collaborate, and to maximize the public funds entrusted to us through partnerships. The unprecedented challenges that we are facing because of the pandemic can only be addressed if we can find ways to work together and find solutions,” Robredo told the appropriations panel.
The Department of Budget and Management proposed a P713.41 allocation for the OVP for its 2022 operations. The amount is 21 percent lower than Robredo’s 2021 budget of P908.79 million.
“[T]he Office of the Vice President has been judiciously and honestly tending its budget in order to pursue the objective of promoting and protecting the welfare and well-being of the Filipino people,” Bordado said.
He cited Robredo, who personally conducted the budget presentation, for the highest audit rating it has received from the Commission on Audit for three consecutive years.
Reacting to the budget cut made by the DBM, Castro said the OVP budget should either be restored in its 2021 level or increased to P1 billion.
Castro congratulated Robredo for swiftly responding to the needs of the education sector as the country battled the COVID-19 pandemic.
For her part, Elago cited the OVP’s “commitment to transparency and accountability by promoting the people’s right to information and ensuring public access to the VP’s SALN as a matter of obligation”
“This youth representation firmly believes that promoting transparency and upholding human rights are key to empower, encourage, and inspire the Filipino people to actively work and stand together in solidarity,” said Elago.
The OVP’s pandemic response includes supporting frontliners, hospitals, and other facilities through PPE, medical supplies, care packages, free transportation and dormitories, temporary shelters, and test kits.
To address the growing need for medical attention during this time, the office has its teleconsultation platform, Bayanihan E-Konsulta, which caters to both COVID and non-COVID cases. Meanwhile, it supports local government units in testing and vaccination efforts through Swab Cab and Vaccine Express, respectively.