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MANILA, Philippines – The House appropriations committee on Wednesday, September 14, swiftly terminated the deliberations on the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) P2.92-billion budget for 2023, which is a three-fold increase from the office’s P702-million budget in 2022.
The deliberations only lasted for 13 minutes – much shorter if the time spent on the roll call of attendees would not be counted.
House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan said that while the three-member Makabayan bloc wanted to ask questions about the OVP’s proposed budget, they agreed to move the interpellation during the plenary debates.
“As the minority leader and as a courtesy of the whole House of Representatives by our speaker, all of us while some members of the Makabayan bloc would like to provide questions on some new items in the budget, they would also provide questions in the plenary to extend our courtesy to the Office of the Vice President. And therefore Mr. House Speaker, I move to terminate the briefing of the Office of the Vice President,” he said.
The House Majority also joined in terminating the budget briefing of the OVP. “So we register our second,” House Majority Leader Manuel Dalipe said.
The swift termination of budget proposals for the Office of the President and OVP during House deliberations has been a tradition by the Congress as courtesy for both offices. Normally, deliberations only lasted from 10 to 15 minutes in the past years.
Vice President Sara Duterte thanked the House panel for swiftly terminating the budget deliberations of her office.
“If there is anything that we can do to help you as an office in your respective mandates, in your respective legislative districts and party-lists, please do let us know. We are open to collaborations in helping our fellow Filipinos,” Duterte said.
The main reason behind the jump in the OVP’s proposed 2023 budget was its allocations for “good governance program.” The OVP allocated over P2.2 billion for the program. In 2022, the OVP only asked – as submitted to Congress – P621.6 million under the same program.
In an earlier text message to Rappler, Duterte’s spokesperson lawyer Reynold Munsayac said the good governance program will fund the following OVP projects:
- Libreng sakay (free rides)
- Pagbabago campaign
- OVP food trucks
- Livelihood programs like Magnegosyo Ta Day and Peace 911
- Medical assistance
- Burial assistance
The Vice President also asked for P500 million in confidential funds for 2023. In 2022, the OVP did not have a budget for confidential expenses. Due to the swift termination of the OVP budget deliberations, lawmakers were not able to ask the OVP about the confidential funds.
At a press briefing on September 1, OVP spokesman Reynold Munsayac said the confidential funds would be “utilized in compliance with the joint circular issued by the COA (Commission on Audit) and DBM.”
“The position and mandate of the Vice President allows her to utilize those kinds of funds regarding peace and order and national security, especially as we have livelihood projects that will be implemented in conflict areas in our attempt to maintain peace, order, and push for national security projects,” he added. – Rappler.com