SENATE SUPPORT. Vice President Sara Duterte poses with senators and staff members for a photo, following the budget hearing on Monday (Nov. 14, 2022). Duterte thanked senators for showing their support for their social services programs. (Photo courtesy: Office of the Vice President)

MANILA – Vice President Sara Z. Duterte expressed determination in pushing for social services for the underprivileged, under the Office of the Vice President (OVP)’s good governance program, as the Senate approved the OVP’s PHP2.292-billion proposed budget.

In a statement on Monday night, Duterte said the Senate’s move “demonstrates confidence and trust” in the OVP’s commitment and dedication to public service.

“The approval bolsters the OVP’s determination to ensure that social services and other government programs and projects reach communities and bring about positive development and provide solutions to the problems of our fellow Filipinos across the country — especially those who are living in underprivileged communities and those battered by natural calamities and armed conflicts,” she said.

The OVP’s approved proposed budget is higher than this year’s PHP702-million budget.

"Out of respect, we've never decreased the Office of the Vice President's budget… The Office of the Vice President is the second highest official of the land who deserves support. We should want her to succeed, irrespective of (whether) we agree (or not) that person. It’s the institution that we’re trying to honor,” Senate Committee on Finance Chairperson Sonny Angara said.

“Malaki po ang aking tiwala kay Vice President Sara Duterte. Alam ko pong magiging malaking tulong po ang mga programa niya para sa ating mga kababayan (I have a big trust to Vice President Sara Duterte. I know her programs shall be a huge help for our fellow Filipinos),” Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go said.

Despite opposition due to the inclusion of the PHP500-million confidential fund and possible replication of programs, which was said to be performed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Angara underscored the legislation’s need to support the OVP.

“There are many [people] who are going for help to the Office of the Vice President, for burial expenses, medical expenses, the same people who approach us, actually. I would venture to think that here in the OVP, they have bigger needs than us,” Angara said in mixed English and Filipino.

The good governance program includes burial and medical assistance through the OVP central and satellite offices; nationwide free rides; disaster response and relief; PagbaBAGo campaign; Kalusugan food trucks; livelihood programs for women and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual plus (LGBTQIA+) community; Magnegosyo Ta Day; and Peace 911. (PNA)