Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday called for a higher budget allocation for the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.

delima 1 - Office of the Vice President deserves a higher budget–De Lima
Senator Leila de Lima (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

De Lima said Vice President Leni Robredo’s office deserves a higher budget for next year.

“Time and again, VP Leni Robredo and her office have proven just how competent they are in serving and helping our countrymen, especially during this pandemic,” De Lima said in a statement.

Only recently, De Lima said the OVP received anew the highest audit rating from the Commission on Audit (COA).

But she noted the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed the OVP’s proposed budget for next year from P723.39-million to P679-million—which the lady senator believed is the smallest in the proposed 2021 national expenditure program (NEP).

“Pero, mahirap talagang ispelingin ang administrasyon na kung hindi man baligtad mag-isip ay sadyang gusto lang manggipit ng mga hindi nila kapanalig. (It’s really hard to comprehend how this administration thinks or maybe it is just bent on harassing people who are not their allies),” De Lima stressed.

“Hiyang-hiya naman ang kakapiranggot na budget ng OVP kumpara sa bilyon-bilyong intel fund ni Duterte!
(Comparing the miniscule budget of the OVP is a shame compared to the billions of intelligence fund of President Duterte!),” the detained senator added.

De Lima said it is evident that Malacanang is flexing its powers to prevent the vice president from reaching out to more Filipinos who desperately need the government’s assistance.

“Ang malinaw: Sa mas malaking pondo, mas maraming matutulungan ang isang #BusyPresidente. Habang hanggang ngayon, wala pa rin tayong napapala sa isang batugan, patulog-tulog at laging missing-in-action na Pangulo. (What is clear: with a bigger budget, one busy vice president can always help more people. While until now, we have gained nothing from a missing-in-action President),” she lamented.

During the Senate’s hearing on the 2021 national budget, senators assessed that the proposed P4.5-billion budget of the Office of the President for intelligence and confidential funds for next year is “a bit too much.”

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said he will question the appropriation once the Senate finance committee panel starts deliberating on the OP’s proposed budget. 

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