The House of Representatives on Monday began its plenary deliberations on the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, delivered his sponsorship speech on House Bill 6251 which shall focus among others “on a massive infrastructure program complemented by reforms in programs for peace, security and ecological integrity.”
“We need to fast-track Strategic Infrastructure. Over the medium- term, the Duterte administration will need to raise substantial funding for its Build, Build, Build Program,” Nograle said in his speech.
“For 2018, this amounts to P1.097 trillion, a 27.9-percent increase over its 2017 level of P858.1 billion. Some P431.1 billion will fund various road network projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways. Notably, we will be constructing P49.3 billion worth or bypasses and diversion roads and spending P15 billion to pave national arterial and secondary roads, P 5.4 billion to construct flyovers, interchanges and underpasses and P55.4 billion to construct missing links all across the 16 regions of the country” Nograles said.
Nograles said the 2018 General Appropriations Bill also seeks to alleviate poverty by maintaining a reasonable amount for education, improving healthcare, strengthening labor and employment and boosting the Conditional Cash Transfer Program.
“Clearly spelled out in the Philippine Development Plan or PDP 2017-2022 are our goals of matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay para sa bawat Pilipino,” Nograles added.
“Government must remain to be the ultimate financier of social services. This budget addresses the lingering twin problems of poverty and inequality,” he added.
The national budget for next year raises allocation for the education sector at P691.1 billion in 2018, or P41.7-billion increase from this year’s allocation.
The increased funding, Nograles said, would be utilized for the construction of 47,000 classrooms, repair and rehabilitation of 18,000 classrooms, procurement of 84,781 school seats, and creation of 81,100 teaching positions.
Nograles said the government intends to provide additional government assistance and subsidies to students and teachers in the higher education sector by implementing Unified Financial Assistance System, and providing financial assistance to college students through the Commission on Higher Education’s ‘Tulong Dunong’ Program worth P4.8 billion.
Nograles said the Duterte administration also raises the funding for the Department of Health (DoH) to P29 billion in 2018 from P24.2 billion in 2017.
“[This is] for the facilities improvement of 353 hospitals, construction of 1,497 Barangay Health Stations [BHS], building of 177 new Rural Health Units [RHUs], and to complete and equip 3,320 RHUs and 28,188 BHUs,” Nograles said.
“Likewise, some P57.1 billion for the National Health Insurance Program [NHIP] is intended for the health insurance benefits of 15.4-million families at P2,400 per family, 5.4-million senior citizens at P3,120 per senior citizen, 22,514 families under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan Program and the 22,709 Bangsamoro families,” he added.
On the labor and employment aspect, Nograles said the government aims “to enhance employability of workers” with the Department of Labor and Employment getting P11.2 billion for the upgrading of skills and qualifications, job matching, the Special Program for the Employment of Students, the JobStart Philippines Program and the “Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program” for 2018.
Nograles said the government allocates P7 billion for the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority for skills enhancement and retooling programs. A total of P2.6 billion has been given to the Training for Work Scholarship Program for in-demand skills training, and P681.5 million for the Special Training for Employment Program for specific needs of communities.
Meanwhile, Nograles said the government will provide a bigger allocation for the CCT program for the poor with a total of P89.4 billion funding for the purpose.
“Enhancing the Conditional Cash Transfer Program (CCT) by continuing to protect the 4.4 million existing members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program—otherwise known as the 4Ps—with an P89.4 billion allocation to cover educational grants, livelihood assistance and health services for the Transitioning Household Beneficiaries. P7.1 billion will also be used to strengthen the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for technical vocational skills training, and financial assistance for employment and livelihood assistance,” Nograles said.