Legislators are seeking to raise the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) budget to at least P1 billion, recognizing the office’s thorough COVID-19 response efforts.
Vice President Leni Robredo’s office, in an issued statement, said in keeping with traditions, the House Committee on Appropriations quickly approved the OVP’s proposed budget of P713.41 million on Friday morning. Several House members, however, have said that the office should be given more money to maintain its activities, particularly in light of the epidemic.
Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. proposed a P1-billion budget for the OVP, citing its three straight years of receiving the highest audit grade from the Commission on Audit (COA), as well as its position “at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.”
“[T]he Office of the Vice President has been judiciously and honestly tending its budget in order to pursue the objective of promoting and protecting the welfare and well-being of the Filipino people,” Bordado was quoted in saying in the statement.
The OVP initially proposed a budget of P714.56 million for 2022, but the Department of Budget of Management (DBM) recommended P713.41 million—21% lower than the P908.79 million allocation the office received in 2021.
Vice President Robredo herself presented the office’s budget and various programs before lawmakers, as she has consistently done throughout her term.
“We are a small office, and our key to being strategic has always been to collaborate, and to maximize the public funds entrusted to us through partnerships. The unprecedented challenges that we are facing because of the pandemic can only be addressed if we can find ways to work together and find solutions,” VP Robredo said.
“The Office of the Vice President will continue to contribute what it can, as we strive towards our shared goal of building a better future for our people,” she added.
OVP COVID, Angat Buhay efforts
OVP’s pandemic response includes supporting frontliners, hospitals, and other facilities through PPE, medical supplies, care packages, free transportation and dormitories, temporary shelters, and test kits.
To address the growing need for medical attention during this time, the office has its teleconsultation platform, Bayanihan E-Konsulta, which caters to both COVID and non-COVID cases. Meanwhile, it supports local government units in testing and vaccination efforts through Swab Cab and Vaccine Express, respectively.
Over the past year and a half, the OVP has also been providing, among others:
- relief packs and hot meals to communities in need;
- assistance in distance learning through its Bayanihan E-skwela initiatives; and
- livelihood and training opportunities through its Community Marts, its Bayanihanapbuhay platforms, and the expansion of its Sustainable Livelihood and Training program.
OVP likewise continues to offer medical assistance to vulnerable and indigent clients. From 2016 to 2021, the program has utilized P1.26 billion, serving 107,666 beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, the office’s flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay, has mobilized more than P456 million of resources, helping 563,891 families and individuals in 223 cities and municipalities nationwide, with the support of 346 partner organizations.