Congressmen want to double Robredo’s budget for next year


CONGRESSMEN on Wednesday sought to double the Office of the Vice President’s P679-million budget after it was given the lowest allocation in next year’s P4.5-trillion appropriations.

Doubling the budget would let the office reach more Filipinos for its coronavirus pandemic recovery programs, Baguio City Rep. Mark Go told a budget plenary hearing at the House of Representatives.

“It will be a disservice to the country if we do not increase the budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP),” he said. He wanted the higher allocation reflected in the amended budget bill.

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo and Party-list Rep. Sarah Jane I. Elago also supported the budget increase.

Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, who attended the budget hearing, had sought a P720-million budget but was given only P679 million by the Budget department. This was 66% lower that her office’s budget this year.

“We are happy that the proposed budget of the OVP underwent smooth plenary deliberation,” her spokesman Barry Gutierrez said in a statement on Wednesday.

Presidents and vice presidents in the Philippines are elected separately and can come from different political parties. Ms. Robredo belongs to the party of Benigno S.C. Aquino III, President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s predecessor.

Party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said Ms. Robredo’s program to provide livelihood to families affected by the pandemic needs more funds. “We support the budget increase of the OVP to improve its services that genuinely serve the people.”

Ms. Robredo has sought the help of the private sector and civil society in helping more families during the health crisis.

Aside from helping people affected by the pandemic, her office has also tapped families of victims of Mr. Duterte’s deadly war on drugs to help produce personal protective equipment against the virus.

The House plenary deliberation on the OVP budget took only half an hour. — KATA

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