Proposed 2021 OVP budget breezes through Senate panel

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    SENATORS yesterday restored the P45 million cut made by the Department of Budget and Management on the proposed 2021 budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) as the Senate committee on finance approved a P723 million allocation for the country’s second highest elective office.

    Vice President Leni Robredo, during yesterday’s budget briefing on her office’s budget, said bulk of the additional funding will be used for the purchase of new vehicles to replace old and unserviceable units.

    The DBM had removed the P45 million from the OVP’s proposed budget and allocated only P679.74 million budget for Robredo’s office in the proposed 2021 National Expenditures Program.

    During the hearing, Robredo told the senators that a portion of the slashed funding was supposed to be used to acquire service vehicles as “all six cars assigned to the OVP are no longer usable.”

    “We are not adding new vehicles. It’s just a replacement for the old vehicles,” Robredo said, adding that the six service vehicles have been parked in the OVP garage for more than seven years already.

    She added that during relief operations, her office uses the private vehicles of her staff and thus, could not reimburse their fuel expenses because of reimbursement restrictions.

    Five senators manifested their support to restore the budget cut, namely Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon, Nancy Binay, Francis Pangilinan, Lito Lapid and Ramon Revilla Jr.
    Pangilinan, who is Robredo’s partymate at the Liberal Party, said the OVP deserves the full P723 million budget for 2021, especially after it get got the highest audit rating from the Commission on Audit.

    Francis Pangilinan said: “[B]ased on the COA reports, and based on the reports of the Vice President, clearly, these resources are put to good use and will definitely go a long way, and will not go to waste… In government, if you see a functioning, effective agency or department, it is imperative that you should give them more,” Pangilinan said, a point which was supported by Senate finance committee chairman Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara.

    Angara even noted that vice presidents in the country never had institutional entitlements such as an official residence or an official vehicle.

    “The Vice President has no permanent office or residence attached to the office which is very curious given the high office and its importance so at some point, senators remarked we should look into giving the office greater dignity,” Angara said.

    The Senate financial panel approved the OVP’s budget after just 20 minutes of discussion upon Revilla’s motion.