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House approves on Second Reading P3.76T National Budget for 2018

Date: 13 September 2017; Type: Legal News; Source: House of Representatives

Despite the threat of flood and heavy rainfall in Metro Manila brought about by tropical depression Maring, members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday held a whole-day plenary session to finish floor deliberation on House Bill 6215 or the 2018 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which provides for a P3.76 trillion national budget in 2018, and eventually have it approved on second reading.

President Duterte, in a letter sent to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, certified as urgent HB 6215 to address the need to maintain continuous government operations and expedite funding for the government's programs and projects next year.

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas moved for the approval on second reading of HB 6215. The presiding officer Deputy Speaker Eric Singson then called for a viva voice voting after which he declared, “The Ayes have it!”

Fariñas announced the creation of a small committee to receive and resolve individual amendments to HB 6215. It will be composed of the following: For the Majority, committee on appropriations chairman Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, and Reps. Maria Carmen-Zamora, Federico Sandoval, Rodolfo Fariñas, Mark Aaron Sambar and Dakila Carlo Cua; and for the Minority, Rep. Danilo Suarez.

All individual amendments should be submitted to the committee not later than September 15 2017, said Fariñas.

Prior to the GAB approval, Nograles led the debate on general principles and provisions of the bill while Suarez opened the turno en contra.

A highlight of the more than one week plenary deliberation was the House decision to reduce to P1,000 the proposed budgets of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from P649.484 million and the scandal-wracked Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) from P351 million.

The 2018 national budget of P3.767 trillion is 12.4 percent higher than this year’s budget of P3.35 trillion, and constitutes 21.6 percent of the GDP.

Nograles said the committee hearings conducted by the committee on appropriations and plenary deliberation enabled the House members to study, review and scrutinize the 2018 national budget proposal to ensure the expenditure items will truly benefit the people.

“We have to show the Filipino people that we are meticulous in crafting this budget, careful that it takes care of keeping the cost of goods in the market low and affordable for ordinary citizens. So many dreams and wishes of Filipinos ride on the budget. The budget book is a symbol of their aspirations for a new start for themselves, for their families and their communities,” said Nograles.

In his Budget Message to Congress, President Duterte cited that the 2018 budget was crafted on the following principles: credible and disciplined fiscal policies; fiscal space focused on equitable progress and social order; strengthening transparency, participation and accountability; and enhancing partnerships with local governments to ensure sustainable development.

“With your approval of the 2018 National Budget, a budget that reforms and transforms, we can and will continue our agenda of real and lasting change,” said the President.

With much still to be done, the President said the country needs a more activist budget to fulfill the longings of the people.

“Not just for reports of economic growth and progress, but for the actual, personal experience of these gains in terms of a better life for all Filipinos - in peaceful and safer communities, with enhanced opportunities for advancement, and supported by convenient, reliable services from their government. Matatag. Maginhawa. Panatag,” said the President.

The education sector will get the biggest chunk of the budget with a funding of P691.1 billion broken down as follows: Department of Education (DepED), P613.1 billion; Commission on Higher Education (CHED), P13.5 billion; and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), P64.6 billion.

The other agencies with the highest budgetary allocations are: Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P643.3 billion; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), P172.3 billion; Department of Health (DOH), P164.3 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), P145 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P138 billion; Department of Transportation (DOTr), P73.8 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA), P54.2 billion; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), P33.5 billion; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P27.9 billion.

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