The proposed budget of the Office of the Vice President for fiscal year 2018 has been approved by the House Committee on Appropriations—all in less than three minutes.
Vice President Leni Robredo herself came to the House hearing on Tuesday afternoon, supposedly to present the P443.9-million proposed budget of her office for next year.
However, upon the motion of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the committee—led by Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles—decided to dispense with the presentation and simply approve the budget, which sees a 3.58-percent increase from appropriations in the current year.
The move was done out of “due deference and respect” to VP Leni, a former member of the House herself.
The Vice President thanked the lawmakers for their confidence they have in her office, as shown by the gesture, which the committee also did for the OVP last year.
“Nagpapasalamat ako. Kahit handa tayong i-defend iyong budget, nagpapasalamat pa din tayo na dinispense na [iyong presentation]. Parang we took it as a sign na malaki naman iyong tiwala noong Committee on Appropriations sa Opisina ng Pangalawang Pangulo,” she told reporters after the hearing.
The Vice President explained that the slight increase in the proposed budget sees a balance between the OVP’s savings in maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), as well as its move to fill up available positions in the office.
The proposed budget posted an increase of 36.71 percent in additional personnel services, for 29 filled positions created in 2016. Meanwhile, the recommended MOOE is down by 2.32 percent, and the budget also includes a provision of P11.34 million for capital outlay.
“Basically, iyong increase talaga namin, dumagdag sa capital outlay, saka iyong personnel services. Pagpasok ko kasi, maraming mga positions na dati nang created pero hindi filled-up. Finill-up na natin iyon,” she said.
“Malaki iyong savings namin. Malaki iyong binawas ng MOOE, pero binawi iyong ng personnel services saka capital outlay. So kaunti lang iyong variants, actually, from last year’s budget—three percent,” she added.
Under VP Leni’s leadership, the OVP has taken on six key advocacies under its flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay. It has reached a total of 134 areas around the country, mobilizing around P91 million worth of resources to assist more than 75,000 families in needs such as livelihood, education, food security, health, and housing.
The office also extends medical and burial assistance, as part of its social services program.
The Vice President noted that the proposed budget is still low despite these because under Angat Buhay, the OVP’s support comes mainly by serving as the link between communities in need and private partners.
“Mayroon na kaming bagong mission-vision for OVP—parang medyo nag-veer away kami from a purely ceremonial function to mas advocacy-heavy na—pero iyong advocacy kasi namin, mas collaboration with the private sector,” she said.
“So halos hindi naman nabago iyong pangangailangan. Talagang na-streamline lang iyong services,” she added.