LESSER BY 17% OVER LAST YEAR’S: House panel OKs OVP’s budget for 2019

By Filane Mikee Cervantes MANILA -- The House of Representatives’ appropriations committee yesterday (Aug. 29) approved the P447.68 million budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for 2019. Vice President Leni Robredo personally presented her office’s proposed budget before the appropriations panel. The OVP’s P447.68-million budget for next year went down by 17 percent from its approved 2018 budget of P543.95 million. “What was recommended by DBM (Department of Budget and Management) is about P100 million less than our budget last year,” Robredo said, noting that the DBM’s recommended budget is also significantly lower than the OVP proposal of P549.6 million. Robredo appealed to the lawmakers to restore the slashed budget so that her office could continue providing livelihood assistance to their adopted local government units (LGUs). “We would not be able to continue with our livelihood assistance to our adopted LGUs. If you look at the records, all our adopted LGUs are the poorest, the farthest of our communities,” Robredo said. “We would like to make this appeal, Mr. Chair, sana po kahit ibalik lang yung dati. The office has been used to working within our means pero yung pagbawas (but the cuts)... It’s not for operations. It’s really for livelihood assistance,” she added. Committee chairman Karlo Nograles assured the Vice President that his panel would try to find ways in restoring the budget cuts. “Most of the departments also experienced the same budget cuts which is why we’re trying to resolve all these things within our means as well. ‘Wag kayo mag-alala (Don’t worry). Hanapan natin ng paraan ang problemang ito hanapan natin ng solusyon (We’ll find a way, a solution to this problem),” Nograles said. Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman then moved for the termination of the OVP budget hearing following Robredo’s presentation. “Consistent with the enduring tradition of this committee, I move for the termination of the hearing on the proposed budget of the Office of the Vice President, without prejudice to interpellation during the plenary consideration of the proposed budget and also without prejudice to restoration or augmentation of the proposed budget,” Lagman said. The panel usually approves the budget of government agencies headed by former House members. Robredo was the former representative of Camarines Sur. The proposed appropriation of P447.68m is broken down as follows: personnel services, P94.56m; maintenance and other operating expenses, P350.12m; and capital outlay, P3M.