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House approves Office of the President’s budget
In The Press Posted on October 14th, 2009.
MANILA, Philippines—The 2010 budget of the Office of the President (OP) on Wednesday hurdled plenary debates at the House of Representatives amid questions on its use of intelligence and travel funds.
Unlike at the committee level last month when the OP budget was approved in less than five minutes, plenary interpellation took close to five hours before it was passed.
The budget of the Office of the Vice President, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, and the National Youth Commission was also approved in the continuation of budget debates in the chamber.
The OP proposed an appropriation of P 4.259 billion for next year, while the OVP is asking for P185 million.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman defended the President’s budget on the floor.
Bukidnon Representative Teofisto Guingona III noted that out of the P1.3 billion intelligence budget, OP is allocated P651 million or 48 percent of the budget, while the Department of National Defense gets only P12 percent, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 9 percent, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, 3 percent.
Guingona observed the intelligence fund of the OP was “inordinately large.”
Lagman, however, countered that the amount only appeared huge because there are other recipient agencies of the fund.
Calling for more transparency in the utilization of the President’s travel allowance, Guingona proposed that the OP make a full disclosure of the details of her trip, including her entourage, expenses and itinerary. But Lagman argued there are security considerations for doing this.
“We are talking about the budget of the President, she is the chief executive of the country, she should not be treated like an ordinary bureaucrat. . . . There are security requirements which should be considered in the travels of the President both foreign and domestic, so I don’t think we have to work on this particularized accounting or reporting even prior to the President’s travels,” Lagman said.
Party list Representatives Liza Maza of Gabriela, Neri Colmenares and Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna, Raymond Palatino of Kabataan, and South Cotabato Representative Darlene Antonino-Custodio also interpellated Lagman.