DEFENDED. Vice President Sara Duterte answers on Thursday (Sept. 29, 2022) the queries from senators during the budget deliberation of the Senate Committee on Finance concerning the 2023 proposed budget of the Office of the Vice President. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan) 

MANILA – The proposed 2023 national budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) can now be presented in the plenary after being approved on Thursday by the Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Senator Sonny Angara.

Vice President Sara Duterte, who was present during the budget deliberation, told the committee that her office is proposing to spend PHP2.3 billion next year under the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

Included in the OVP's proposed budget are the implementation of its Medical and Burial Assistance, Libreng Sakay, Disaster Operations Center, PagbaBAGo Campaign, Relief for Individuals in Crisis and Emergencies, Kalusugan Food Trucks, Peace 911, and Mag Negosyo Ta 'Day Program.

Duterte also reiterated to senators her plan of establishing seven OVP Satellite Offices in Dagupan, Tacloban, Cebu, Bacolod, Tandag, Zamboanga, and Davao which will replicate the OVP services and complement its disaster risk reduction efforts.

She reported as well on the preparations of the OVP in establishing its permanent office being eyed to have its own ceremonial area, museum of vice presidents, administrative office, residential area, and headquarters for the Vice Presidential Security and Protection Group.

"Right now, we are talking to GSIS about properties under them that can be donated or sold to the Office of the Vice President as a permanent property," Duterte said mentioning that the OVP has initially allotted PHP10 million for the land acquisition.

"Right now, we are looking at one property and that is the Coconut Palace. But there is no amount yet identified or given by the GSIS but we are still looking at other properties as well of the government," she added.

Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Christopher Lawrence Go expressed their support for the OVP's proposed budget saying its efforts to bring service closer to the people is a great innovation.

"I understand that the OVP, under VP Inday Sara’s leadership, has begun establishing satellite offices all over the Philippines. I am confident that with these reforms, the OVP will not only bring service closer to the people but more importantly, bring service closer to more people," Revilla said in his manifestation.

"Knowing the vice president since she started her public service, alam kong magagamit po ang pondo ng kanyang opisina sa (I know that the fund will be used in her office in) DepEd (Department of Education), sa (in) Office of the Vice President sa tama at wala pong masasayang (properly and will not go to waste)," Go said.

Senator Go, the former Special Assistant to the President under former President Rodrigo Duterte, attested that the Vice President is stricter than his father regarding budgeting government funds.

The OVP's budget deliberation, which only lasted around 45 minutes, was immediately followed by the DepEd's budget hearing. (PNA)