MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Vice President (OVP) is asking for a bigger budget – a three-fold increase, in fact – for fiscal year 2023.
Based on the 2023 National Expenditure Program or the proposed budget for the coming year, the Vice President Sara Duterte’s office is asking for P2.292 billion in appropriations. Her predecessor, former Vice President Leni Robredo, got only a P702-million budget in 2022.
The main reason behind the bump in the OVP’s proposed 2023 budget? Allocations for its “good governance program.” In the coming year, the OVP wants to allocate over P2.2 billion for the program. In 2022, the OVP only asked – as submitted to Congress – for P621.6 million under the same program.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that the amount the OVP asked for its “good governance program” for 2022 was P621.6 billion. This has been corrected.
In a 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
Magnegosyo Ta Day and Peace 911 are programs that Duterte spearheaded when she was mayor of Davao City.
The Vice President is also asking for P500 million in “confidential expenses” and P620 million in “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses” for 2023. In 2022, the OVP did not have a budget for confidential expenses and asked for the same amount, or P620 million, for “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses.”
(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that the OVP was asking P500 billion in “confidential expenses” for 2023. This has been corrected.)
At a press briefing on Thursday, 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.
Duterte’s plans include eventually establishing a permanent office for the OVP. Previous vice presidents have rented their offices, the latest being the Quezon City Reception of the Quezon City government that served as the OVP headquarters of then-vice president Leni Robredo. Duterte has opted to use a building in Mandaluyong City as her office.
While the 2023 budget for the OVP doesn’t include funds for the potential construction of a permanent OVP building,her spokesperson said “there is a budget however to be used as a deposit, for purposes of reserving a potential site.”
The biggest budget of the OVP under Robredo, the leader of the opposition during the Rodrigo Duterte administration, was just over P900 million.
The OVP under Duterte is expected to get its proposed multibillion-peso budget. For starters, Duterte is a close ally and the running mate of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the last elections.
The 2023 NEP was submitted to the House of Representatives on August 22 with formal deliberations beginning on August 26, Friday. Deliberations and briefings continue from August 30 through the middle of September.
The House appropriations committee, tasked with spearheading deliberations on the proposed budget, has deployed several vice chairpersons to head simultaneous briefings on the proposed budget. House leaders want plenary deliberations to begin by mid-September and the approval of the proposal by October 1, although their original self-imposed deadline was September 30.
The same process – albeit with potentially different timelines – will happen simultaneously at the Senate. Once both chambers pass the proposed budget, they will settle any differences via a bicameral conference committee, approve the new proposed budget via their respective chambers, before the enrolled bill is sent to Malacañang.
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman hopes the 2023 budget bill would be signed into law before Christmas. – with a report from Bonz Magsambol/Rappler.com