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V Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)

V National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)



Kabayan Forum



                                                                                                           Ms. Ronadale Zapata




12 October 2005


In response to various critics, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) yesterday said that the proposed budget for the OVP is justified and will be able to withstand scrutiny. In fact, the OVP welcomes criticisms as part and parcel of our democratic society.


“We would like to assure everyone that the OVP budget submitted to Congress by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) itself is not bloated and, if approved, would translate to better public service for all Filipinos,” according to Atty. Rodolfo Ma. Ponferrada, Assistant Chief of Staff of the Office of the Vice President.


Earlier, the DBM submitted the proposed budget for year 2006 including a P130.776 million allocation for the OVP. Both houses of Congress are currently deliberating on the proposed 2006 budget.


Among the items criticized in the OVP’s budget is the P50 million increase in Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE). Had the OVP’s detractors studied the OVP’s proposed budget more closely, they would have seen that a bulk of the increase (almost P30 million) is earmarked for assistance to indigent patients in hospitals, livelihood programs, comprehensive integrated delivery of social service programs, medical assistance, death and funeral benefits of the victims of calamities and fortuitous events and other forms of financial assistance.


Since Vice President Noli “Kabayan” De Castro assumed office, the number of individuals seeking assistance from the OVP’s Public Assistance Center has exponentially increased from around 16,000 in 2004 to more than 30,000 for the first half of 2005 alone.


Other criticized increases in the OVP’s MOOE include P5 million for traveling expenses. Since De Castro assumed office as the second highest official of the land, he has not traveled abroad using government money except upon the order of the President herself. Invariably, OP funds were used to defray expenses for these trips such as when the Vice President represented the Philippines during the funerals of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, as well as the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI.


Also criticized is the increase of P2.75 million for representation expenses which was warranted by the Vice President’s increased role in the government of PGMA. De Castro is also alternate chair of National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), Presidential Adviser on OFWs, and price monitoring czar.


The OVP is also requesting an allocation to buy an official vehicle for the Vice President. The public maybe surprised to learn that De Castro uses his own private vehicle since the government has no official car for the Vice President.


“Everyone who knows the Vice President knows how austere he is. Even before the government’s austerity program, we have already instituted reforms to generate savings for the government. We want the public to know that not a single centavo allocated for the OVP would be put to waste,” Atty. Ponferrada added.


With the Vice President as housing czar, the key shelter agencies accomplished the following: Of the 144,756 households provided with security of tenure, 70,927 went to socialized housing. This accomplishment is attributed to the proclamation of 31 sites with a total land area of 356.67 hectares for socialized housing benefiting more than 23,353 households.


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