Senate panel thumbs down DBM's 21% cut on Leni's budget

The Senate finance committee on Tuesday, Sept. 21 readily decided to increase to at least P1 billion for the 2022 budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP).

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had given the OVP P713.41 million for 2022 which is 21 percent lesser than its 2021 P900 million budget.

The bipartisan support for the increased budget of the office of Vice President Leni Robrebo followed a hybrid public hearing conducted by Senator Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’ M. Angara, committee chairman.

The Senate minority bloc led by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon and Senator Francis ‘’Kiko’’ N, Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), pressed for a higher OVP budget.

Pangilinan cited a recent report of the Commission on Audit (COA) that the OVP had a ‘’highest audit rating.’’

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri told Robredo that she has the bipartisan support of senators for the passage of her budget.

‘’We will give as much as we can,’’ Zubiri said, adding that the Senate has given as much as it could to the Vice President ‘’since the beginning’’. ‘’We believe in your leadership,’’ he said.

Zubiri told Robredo that he would not ask her to come to the Senate to defend her 2022 budget. Robredo appeared virtually this morning.

Angara added that the OVP’s budget would pass through the ‘’fast lane.’’

Both Angara and Zubiri said increases in the OVP’s budget would be filled up when it is submitted for plenary debate.

Robredo said the additional support of the Senate allowed her to pursue her many initiatives.

Recently, House of Representatives lawmakers, led by Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Gabriel Bordado, a Robredo ally, supported a bigger budget for the Office of the Vice President after the opposition leader told the House committee on appropriations that the DBM approved a smaller budget for the OVP in 2022.

Robredo, who was physically present at the budget hearing on Friday, September 10, said that the OVP's DBM-approved budget for 2022, is 21 percent less than the P900 million her office got in 2021.