P8.2-B 2020 budget for Duterte's office breezes through House panel

MANILA, Philippines – It took less than 7 minutes for a House panel to approve the 2020 proposed budget of the Office of the President (OP).

This was the entire duration of the hearing before the House committee on appropriations, from prayer to adjournment, on Friday, September 6.

It is tradition in the lower house to quickly approve the proposed budgets of the OP and Office of the Vice President (OVP) at the committee level as a courtesy to a co-equal branch of government.

Questions and concerns are usually raised when the national budget reaches the plenary.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea arrives to present, defend Office of the President budget for 2020. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/H1e5kgBtU7 — Pia Ranada (@piaranada) September 6, 2019

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the OP's representative to the hearing, did not even present the budget through a Powerpoint presentation. Copies of the budget were merely handed out to lawmakers.

This is unlike the OVP 2020 budget briefing in which  Vice President Leni Robredo's chief of staff, Undersecretary Philip Dy, presented their budget and gave updates on the office's anti-poverty initiatives.

The OVP budget briefing lasted 24 minutes.

Malacañang is asking for a budget of P8.2 billion for 2020. This is 21% higher than the P6.77 billion it received under the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

More than half of the 2020 OP budget consists of confidential and intelligence funds amounting to P4.5 billion. This is almost double  the budget it asked for in the previous 3 years.

For 2020, if the proposed OP budget gets the green light, Duterte's office will receive the biggest share of confidential and intelligence funds out of all the agencies in government, including the police and military. 

Before the OP budget hearing was over, however, two lawmakers made brief manifestations.

Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite said he intended to raise before the plenary his party's concerns regarding the OP's higher confidential and intelligence budget request, the lower budget for personal services, and the "prospects for peace talks with the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army)."

Medialdea refused to entertain reporters' questions after the hearing. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.