In a little over 30 minutes, the proposed P2.3-billion budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for 2023, which included P500 million as a “confidential fund,” hurdled the Senate finance committee on Thursday.
The committee, chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara, immediately approved the budget presented by Vice President Sara Duterte. Most senators also aired their full support for the budget of the OVP.
It was only Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III who questioned the Vice President about the necessity of her office to ask about the P500 million in confidential funds “in one year.”
But before Duterte could answer, Angara said, “Just to state for the record, just to place things in perspective it has received confidential or intelligence funds for 13 years from the year 2000 to 2012.”
Duterte related there were once intelligence and confidential funds that were granted to the OVP.
In his manifestation, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri appealed to his colleagues to give the OVP “due courtesy” and approve its 2023 budget at the soonest time possible. “So I’m here also appealing to my colleagues that we give the same courtesy we have given to the previous Vice Presidents when it comes to their budget,” Zubiri added.
Senator Bong Go and other senators also aired their support for the OVP’s budget. Go noted that the Vice President will work closely with the President and, on top of that, she will also spearhead one of the most important agencies in the country, the Department of Education.
Senator Ramon Revilla commended the efforts of the OVP to bring service closer to the people by establishing satellite offices all over the Philippines.
Vice President Duterte meanwhile disclosed that her office is now in talks with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for the possible acquisition of the Coconut Palace.
In the Senate hearing, the Vice President was asked if the OVP has already identified the lot that it will acquire for its permanent home because there is a P10-million allotment for land acquisition for the office.
The Vice President explained that the P10-million proposed allocation under the 2023 budget is for the preparation of a possible down payment to secure a contract.
Once the contract is secured, she said they will ask for additional amounts for multi-year payments of the property, GMA News reported.