The House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved the general appropriations bill that provides a national budget of P3.757 trillion for 2019.
The House led by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo approved the budget by voice vote after 11 days of plenary deliberations.
The House is expected to approve the bill on third and final reading before Congress adjourns next week.
Arroyo has been closely following the progress of the bill to ensure the House remains on track with its schedule to pass it on final reading before the Oct. 12 congressional recess. On Monday night, she and other House members stayed until the interpellations on the Defense department’s budget were terminated at 6 am of Tuesday.
In last night’s period of individual amendments, House Majority Floor Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said pursuant to parliamentary precedence, he proposed the creation of a small committee to receive and resolve amendments to HB 8169.
Andaya named the following as members to the small committee: For the majority: Committee on appropriations senior vice chairperson Maria Carmen Zamora, Representatives Federico Sandoval II and Corazon Nunez-Malanyaon; for the Committee on Rules: Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.; and for the minority: Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, Representatives Anthony Bravo and Edcel Lagman.
The deadline for the submission of amendments is set on Oct. 9, 2018, as Congress will adjourn on Oct. 12.
During the lump sum fund interpellation, Rep. Makmod Mending Jr. of AMIN party-list expressed concern that the release of the P3.5-billion fund for the rehabilitation of Marawi City, which is good for only a year, might be bogged down by bureaucratic delay.
He said the establishment of Task Force Bangon Marawi added a layer to the budget release process for the city’s rehabilitation. Previously, the budget only had to pass through the Office of Civil Defense and the Office of the President.
But House appropriations committee senior vice chairman and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda assured Mending that they would seek to extend the validity period of the Marawi rehabilitation fund.
For the fiscal year 2019, the education sector will get the lion’s share of the national budget. The total proposed funding for Department of Education, state universities and colleges, Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority of P659.3 billion marks a 12.3 percent or P72.2-billion growth over their 2018 budget of P587.1 billion.
Of the proposed appropriations of P659.3 billion for education, P528.8 billion will be allocated to DepEd; P65.2 billion will go to SUCs; P50.5 billion to CHED; and P14.8 billion to TESDA.
The Department of Public Works and Highways will receive the second highest allocation of P555.7 billion, which represents an increase of 25.8 percent or P113.9 billion compared to its P441.8-billion budget in 2018.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government will receive the third largest appropriation in 2019 with P225.6 billion. This is 30.9 percent or P53.2 billion higher than its 2018 funding of P172.4 billion.
The other top recipients are the Department of National Defense, P183.4 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development, P173.3 billion; Department of Health, P141.2 billion, which includes P67.4 billion for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.; Department of Transportation, P141.4 billion; Department of Agriculture, P76.1 billion; the Judiciary with P37.3 billion; and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, P32.3 billion.
The infrastructure program for 2019, which shall receive an appropriation of P909.7 billion, will fuel the administration’s massive Build Build Build Program.
In his budget message to Congress, President Rodrigo Duterte said the country is now moving towards half-time in the period that has been given to him and his administration, to enable the Filipino people to experience the life that they aspire for, the life that they deserve.
“We are almost midway to the path that our people have chosen to traverse with us, one that will take them from mere hopes and dreams of the past to the reality of a better and more comfortable life, in a peaceful and more progressive nation today. We are finally poised on the bridge that will lead us to the bright future that we can actually already glimpse,” said the President.
Among the key budget priorities the President identified for 2019 are : 1) Intensifying infrastructure development through infrastructure projects in and outside Metro Manila and in local government units, and through information technology infrastructure; 2) expanding programs on human development; 3) enhancing social services through expanded educational opportunities, universal health for all, and social protection; 4) continuing provisions for the people’s basic needs by ensuring food security and securing meaningful employment; 5) rehabilitating Marawi and moving forward; 6) building a more secure nation through hiring of more police officers and enhancing the capability of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and ensuring efficient administration of justice.
READ: Budget approval before House break doubted