The House of Representatives has sent to the Senate its approved P5.025 trillion 2022 national spending budget to give senators ample time to scrutinize and debate on the proposed allocations by departments. The House passed on second and final reading the 2022 budget last September 30 after getting a certification from the President as to its urgency.
AS earlier promised by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, the House of Representatives sent today its approved 2022 national budget to the Senate to give senators ample time to examine the government's spending plan for next year.
The P5.025 trillion national budget contains institutional amendments designed to help boost the government’s COVID-19 response, upgrade the assets of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to ensure better protection for the country’s rights over the West Philippine Sea and disaster response, and fund state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Velasco explained.
The 2022 budget is 11.5 percent more than the P4.506 trillion for 2021.
“We are very proud of this budget and what it will do to help our country recover from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Velasco said.
“We believe the House delivered a budget that directly responds to the greatest needs of the Filipino people amid this unprecedented global health crisis,” Velasco added.
The institutional amendments were approved by the small committee tasked to consolidate individual amendments on the proposed 2022 national budget as contained in House Bill 10153.
ACT-CIS Representative Eric Yap, who chaired the House appropriations committee, shared to newsmen a copy of the letter sent to Senate President Vicente Sotto III indicating transmission of HB 10153 or the 2022 General Appropriations Bill last October 25, or two days earlier than planned.
“In doing so, we hope to give our senators reasonable time to scrutinize and pass their own version of the GAB as we look forward to the bicameral conference where we can thresh out and reconcile the differing provisions of the House and Senate versions,” Velasco also said.
Velasco likewise stressed the importance of enacting the national budget before the end of the year.
"We cannot afford a reenacted budget, which is expected to dampen the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
“A reenacted budget will definitely ruin our efforts to build back better and deliver much-needed services for our kababayans amid the pandemic," he added.
Yap said the national budget bill followed the thorough process of evaluation, debate, and amendment in the House.
The chamber met its target to end the budget deliberations on September 30, giving the final nod to the bill before Congress went on a month-long break.
Some key amendments to the budget bill were made, including an allocation of P20 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots and P4.5 billion for the special risk allowance of qualified public and private health workers.
House Bill No. 10153 or the 2022 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) was approved on second and final reading in succession on Sept. 30, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte certified it as urgent.
Highest in history
The budget, the highest in Philippine history, is intended for beating COVID-19 and putting the economy back on growth track.
A chunk of it will go to the Department of Education, which is set to receive ₱773.6 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways with ₱686.1 billion and the Department of the Interior and Local Government with ₱250.4 billion.
Lower DOH budget
The Department of Health will only get about ₱242 billion, although it is the lead agency in pandemic response.
Under the budget of the Department of Health, the House has allocated P20 billion for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots, P4.5 billion for the special risk allowance of public and private health care workers, and P5 billion for the Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (MAIP).
Velasco noted that an additional P5.5 billion will be given to the Department of National Defense for the acquisition of five units of C-130 J for the Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) operations of the PAF.
“This will allow the Air Force to effectively fulfill its mandate of protecting the nation’s airspace, and to continue responding to disasters and transporting medical equipment and supplies during this pandemic,” Velasco said.
The lower chamber earmarked P504 million for the operational requirements of four SUCs in the BARMM, namely the Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College in Lanao del Sur, Cotabato State University, Sulu State College, and Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural College.
“We have decided to restore the budgets of the biggest SUCs in BARMM to avert their possible closure. We are not just trying to save thousands of jobs, we are also making sure that these institutions will continue to educate and mold students into future leaders of Muslim Mindanao,” Velasco noted.
Other institutional amendments introduced in the 2022 GAB include the following:
-Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE): P10 billion for the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) with priorities to indigent families, informal sector families, and those under the next lower poverty level.
-Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD): PHP10 billion for the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS); and P1 billion for the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
-Department of Transportation (DOTr): PHP6 billion for the Service Contracting Program (SCP), which extends assistance to transport drivers and operators to tide them over amid health measures enforced in public transportation and to provide free rides to the commuting public.
-Department of Information and Communications (DICT): P3 billion for the National Broadband, which aims to set up a well-established network to provide faster, efficient, and equitable broadband connectivity to the country, especially for the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs).
Signed by December
Velasco said the overall objective is for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the GAB into law by December to prevent a reenacted budget that could slow economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services.
Yap said the House is committed to provide the enabling mechanisms for responsive and dynamic governance and to strengthen the capabilities of the government in addressing the effects of the pandemic.
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