MANILA — Several lawmakers on Friday sang praises for Vice President Leni Robredo and her office's efforts during the pandemic, as they sought to increase to P1 billion her budget for 2022.
During the House of Representatives appropriations panel's budget hearing on the Office of the Vice President's (OVP) proposed budget for next year, several lawmakers took note of Robredo's programs to aid Filipinos hit hard by the pandemic.
"With its multiple programs and projects aimed at improving the lives of our marginalized countrymen, the Office of the Vice President has been at the forefront in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic," said Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado.
"I am therefore proposing that the P713 million budget of the OVP for 2022, representing a substantial cut of more than 21 percent [from last year's budget], be increased to at least P1 billion," he added.
The OVP presentation showed that it originally sought a P714.56 million budget for 2022 but the Department of Budget and Management only approved P713.41 million. This is lower than the OVP's P908.79 million budget in 2021.
Other lawmakers seconded Bordado's manifestation.
"Ako po ay nakikiisa sa manifestation ni Cong. Bordado na taasan to least P1 billion 'yung budget ng OVP para mas magampanan pa lalo 'yung kaniyang tungkulin," said ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro.
(I am one with Cong. Bordado in calling for an increase in the OVP budget so it could perform its mandate.)
Despite the budget cut, Robredo vowed they would continue their efforts as best as they could.
“We are confident that with the proposed budget for OVP next year, we can continue working with our partners to contribute to our shared goals of defeating the virus and improving the lives of our people," she said.
Robredo's office was among the first to organize transportation assistance to frontliners during the onset of the pandemic last year. This year, it spearheaded a "vaccine express" program to inoculate transport workers, among others.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also lauded Robredo's disclosure of her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
"Kabataan partylist lauds the OVP’s commitment to transparency and accountability by promoting the people's right to information and ensuring public access to the VP’s SALN as a matter of obligation," she said.
This comes after Ombudsman Samuel Martires, during his office's budget deliberation, told lawmakers he wanted jail time for those who make public comments on SALN.
Members of the panel extended to the OVP the same courtesy it extended to the Office of the President last week.
Robredo is being urged by several groups to run for president in 2022, but she has yet to finalize her decision.