Senate panel wants bigger 2020 budget for OVP

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, Senate finance committee chair, promised on Monday, September 16, to endorse an increase to the proposed P673-million budget of the Office of the Vice President for 2020.

"At the very least, we will protect your budget and I'm sure many [among] us will want to increase it given the demands of your office," Angara said.

The interpellation lasted for less than 10 minutes, after Vice President Leni Robredo presented her office's programs to the Senate panel.

The OVP's proposed budget for next year will be used mainly for its anti-poverty projects. Under the 2020 National Expenditure Program, some P600.102 million will be used for good governance engagements and social service projects.

At the hearing, Robredo said her office cannot conduct research outside of what they have because they "don't have money."

The vice president added that their policy unit is being headed by a consultant, because they can't afford to have a permanent staff.

"We can't afford the salary grade of the one who heads it. For the staff, we have 3 staff – a 4-man team – but most of the staff are [under] job order [arrangements]," Robredo said.

Before adjourning the hearing, Angara said, "We will favorably endorse without prejudice to increasing – and not decreasing – the budget of the Office of the Vice President."

In an interview with reporters, Robredo said that they will be preparing how much would be needed for the budget hike.

"Ngayon wala pa kaming estimate, kasi first time na-bring up sa amin na p'wedeng pondohan iyon (policy unit). Dati kasi, sarili lang sikap na mayroong unit pero walang pondo," Robredo said.

(Now, we still don't have an estimate, because it is the first that it was brought up that our policy unit can be funded. Before, we take it upon ourselves. There's a unit but it isn't funded enough.)

At the House of Representatives, Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez had promised to further increase the OVP funds for next year.

Among the agencies, the OVP has the smallest increase in funds in the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 budget at P1.47 million (0.22%) from its 2019 budget of P671.55 million. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

image