PRESENTATION OF VICE PRESIDENT LENI ROBREDO
House Appropriations committee hearing on the 2019 budget for the Office of the Vice President
Mr. Chair, beginning July of 2016, we refocused the mandate of the Office of the Vice President from just a ceremonial office to performing an advocacy role and nation-building especially in poverty alleviation. Our main goal is to serve as a platform for convening stakeholders to collaborate in taking on the complex challenges facing our nation, delivering results that could be felt by our fellow Filipinos especially the marginalized.
Next slide, please. (See powerpoint presentation) We initiated Angat Buhay to facilitate partnerships among the private sector, national government agencies, and local governments, and to mobilize additional expertise and resources in fighting poverty. We started with 50 communities coming from the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas and underdeveloped regions in the country. Partners from the private sector listened to the LGUs and responded with pledges to help address the identified needs. The success of our launch in October 2016 led to more LGUs requesting to be part of our Angat Buhay program, eventually increasing the coverage of our flagship program from 50 communities to 176 communities at present. But we also saw the need to broaden our efforts beyond Angat Buhay and undertake a more active engagement where communities can come together to identify and work on the issues of nation-building that are important to them.
Since July of 2016, we have partnered with more than 300 organizations, mobilizing P252 million worth of resources from the private sector to assist 155,000 families in climbing out of the poverty trap. We have also established Istorya ng Pag-asa chapters who continue the community-building activities on their own. These initiatives were undertaken on top of the improvements we have made to OVP’s traditional medical assistance program, which was carried over from previous administrations.
Accordingly, we also strengthened OVP as an institution to enable our personnel to effectively take on the complexity of our new strategic direction. We are very proud to inform this honorable body that our office was already certified—we were able to establish a quality management system that was certified last December of 2017 under the more recent ISO 9001-2015 standard. We still have a long way to go.
Next slide, please. In this light, we have always… next slide, okay. In this slide, we have always endeavoured to keep our operations lean as we contribute to our… to the fight against poverty. The only significant increase in our annual budget has been in our personnel services budget, owing mainly to the filling up of vacant positions and the salary increases mandated under EO 201 Series of 2016. Almost half of our operational expenses or MOOE consists of subsidies that is given directly to beneficiaries as medical assistance. We also initiated a livelihood subsidies program under Angat Buhay to assist those in remote areas, where access to opportunities for economic advancement is severely limited or non-existent.
We would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate our gratitude to Congress for adding P80 million to our 2018 budget for locally-funded projects. This has enabled our office to support interventions in our Angat Buhay communities that could not be sourced from our private partners. As of June of 2018, we have already utilized P20,279,000 of the fund, which translates to 15 LGUs assisted covering projects, such as the construction of psychiatric acute care facility in San Remigio, Cebu; high school dormitories, as well as the acquisition of school multi-cabs that help students from far-flung areas reach their schools more easily. Should they be given the opportunity to continue the program in 2019, we can provide support to more of our Angat Buhay communities.
Next slide, please. Maintaining a lean but effective organization also required us to refine our internal planning and budgeting systems to ensure the strategic and responsible use of resources given to us. Our budget utilization rate is worth 85 percent in 2016 during the transition and 95 percent in 2017. Our BUR is at 51 percent as of August 7, 2018 and we’re targeting a higher utilization by the end of the year in preparation for the cash-based budgeting policy in 2019 as earlier proposed. Preparations are well underway for our convergence activities scheduled for the third and fourth quarter.
Since we began in July of 2016, we have learned a lot working with communities and partners from the public and the private sector. We saw to incorporate all of these learnings in firming up our contribution to the fight against poverty, especially in light of the administration’s goal to reduce poverty from 21.6 percent in 2016 to 14 percent in 2022. We have learned that fighting poverty on the ground is not dependent on the quantity of partners, pledges, resources, or even government programs. It takes more than matching and coordination to make true convergence happen.
While as a nation, we have made some progress, we need to have more impact, especially on the ground. We need to focus on outcomes, how the lives of every Filipinos are impacted, not just merely outputs and activities. Reflecting on our long-term objectives and outcomes, we have adopted a framework for collective impact to guide a targeted approach to fighting poverty and to strengthen our facilitation of convergence on the ground among communities, partners, and LGUs.
Based on research, convergence and collective impact depends on the presence of: number one, a common understanding of the problem and a shared vision for change; number two, a shared measurement for evaluating success; number three, the coordination of mutually reinforcing activities; number four, a dedicated organization and personnel to serve as the backbone for facilitating collaboration and effective decision-making; and number five, continuous communication to maintian trust between all participating organizations and stakeholders.
Ultimately, we want partners from both the public and the private sector to champion convergence and collective impact against poverty and their respective communities. Internally, this will require us to upgrade the competencies of our people and ensure the effective transfer of knowledge to our local counterparts, who are in the best position to sustain these initiatives. We also want to strengthen our monitoring and evaluation systems using information technology to provide direct evidence of our policy advocacies.
We hope to donate these IT platform to our partner LGUs and local CSOs to foster better engagement and public debate on our policies and systems for ushering in meaningful social change. The challenges of the war of the poverty are as varied as they are complex. And the components of the solutions are inter-dependent. This is why our focus is on developing models of convergence and demonstrative, collective impact, to hopefully contribute that final piece of the puzzle for ensuring that our continued economic growth results in a shared prosperity rather than the widening income gap experienced by other countries.
Next slide, please. We just want to emphasize—that is the end of the presentation—but Mr. Chair, we just want to emphasize that if you look at Slide 6—can we go back to Slide 6 again—if you look at Slide 6… Iyong cash-based budgeting pala, if you look at this table, Mr. Chair, and the members of the Committee on Appropriations, our budget for 2018 was P543.95 million—no, P550.99 million—we proposed—
I’m sorry, your honor. Our budget—that should be the previous slide, OVP Annual Budget—the 2018 budget for the office was P543.95 million. We proposed P549 million for 2019. That is just an additional P6 million but what was recommended by DBM is about a hundred million [pesos] less than our budget from last year, which is just P447.68 million. That would mean that we would be… we would not be able to continue with our livelihood assistance to our adopted LGUs and if you look at the records, Mr. Chair and the members of the committee, all our adopted LGUs are the poorest, the farthest, of our communities. So the livelihood assistance would have meant a great deal in, you know, supporting our projects inasmuch as in 2016, we were entirely dependent—2016 and 2017— we were entirely dependent on the help from the private sector. The additional item in the budget that was given to us for 2018 was a huge help to our communities. So, we would like to make this appeal, Mr. Chair, sana po kahit ibalik lang iyong dati. The office has been used to working within our means pero iyong pagbawas [sa 2019 budget] is really a… it’s not for operations but it’s really for livelihood assistance. It’s very difficult if we are entirely dependent on private sectors because our private partners have their own advocacies and most of the time—or sometimes—they are not really aligned with the results of our needs assessment with our communities. So I would like to make this appeal, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, baka po puwede lang maibalik iyong dating binigay sa amin. Thank you very much.
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