SENATORS on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, expressed support to providing the Office of the Vice President (OVP) a bigger budget for 2022.
Under the National Expenditure Program submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the Congress in August, P713.41 million was allocated to the OVP.
It was 21.5 percent lower than the office’s 2021 budget of P908.79 million and below the P714.56 million proposed by OVP.
“The National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by DBM for 2021 was approximately P700 million and the Senate increased it to P900 million or so. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we will probably do the same because we have seen you made wise use of your budget and you had a kind of multiplier effect by partnering with so many organizations,” Senator Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate committee on finance, said during a budget hearing.
He noted that the proposal of several congressmen at the House of Representatives of increasing the OVP’s budget to at least a billion was not an “unreasonable goal” considering how it handled its budget and its initiatives to help the government address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We will refer the budget of the Office of the Vice President favorably to the plenary with increases still to be determined at this point,” Angara added.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis Pangilinan all agreed to Angara’s statement.
During the hearing, Vice President Leni Robredo said P5.995 million of their budget for 2020 were used for the procurement of over 600,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) sets that were distributed to medical frontliners.
She said they pursued a more sustainable alternative by partnering with local designers and medical experts in locally producing PPEs, which doubled as income generation for 23 sewing communities from Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Cebu, Lanao del Sur, and Nueva Ecija.
She said they also partnered with several non-government organizations for the conduct of donation drive from March 13 to April 30, 2020, where they were able to raise P55 million allocated for various Covid-related efforts, including the provision of free shuttle to frontliners when public transportation was suspended after the declaration of lockdown in March 2020.
The OVP also established free dormitories with necessary amenities such as WiFi access for frontliners and essential staff amid the pandemic.
“The OVP also set up Community Kitchens to address hunger in the poorest communities affected by the pandemic. The initiative continues this year but has shifted to donations received from various donors,” said Robredo, adding they also conducted free Covid-19 testing. (SunStar Philippines)