MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives approved in plenary session yesterday the proposed P2.7-billion 2013 budget for President Aquino's office.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. was on hand to help Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, who was defending the budget for the Office of the President (OP), respond to questions from House members.
However, Aquino’s outlay was not subjected to much questioning.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, the head of the opposition bloc in the House, merely manifested his concern over what he said was the failure of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to destroy the bulk of seized illegal drugs.
He said the law requires that except for small quantities that would be presented in court as evidence, confiscated illegal drugs should be burned to prevent their recycling.
He said it is not uncommon to hear reports that some seized drugs find their way again into the market.
He said there is an estimated P5-billion worth of such unlawful substances that state agencies are keeping.
“We share your concern. This is indeed alarming, if it is true,” Sarmiento said.
After a brief chat with Ochoa, Sarmiento said the executive secretary, who is Malacañang’s anti-crime czar, would look into Suarez’s information and see to it that confiscated illegal drugs are destroyed.
The 2013 OP budget of P2.733 billion is P111 million higher than this year’s funding of P2.622 billion, with the bulk of the increase going to pay adjustments under the Salary Standardization Law.
Ochoa earlier said the President’s office, in proposing its budget, was “guided by the principles of fiscal discipline by defining specific objectives and priorities in terms of projects and activities, efficiency by observing the best value for money in the allocation and use of resources, and transparency and accountability by assigning delivery units as cost centers.”
The House also approved the P416.6-million funding for next year for Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The funding includes P200 million in pork barrel funds to be used “for the implementation of priority programs and projects of the vice president.”
On top of his pork barrel, Binay will have P85 million for “donations and subsidies.”