Posted on

The House of Representatives on Friday approved on third and final reading the proposed PHP4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

A total of 267 lawmakers approved House Bill 7727 or the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on third and final reading after the plenary passed the measure on second reading on the same day.

Only six lawmakers opposed, while no one abstained from voting.

President Rodrigo Duterte has certified the spending measure as urgent, which lifts the “three-day” rule between the second and third readings.

The House gave its greenlight to the 2021 GAB after holding a special session from October 13 to 16, as called upon by President Duterte.

House appropriations committee chair Eric Yap said the proposed budget is crucial to the country’s recovery from the adverse effects of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic as it will serve as an investment for resiliency and sustainability.

“We stand along with the budget philosophy of this administration that more than our priorities for a responsive and dynamic governance, we have to focus our resources to the most urgent priority — to reset our momentum and action, rebound for the devastating effect of the pandemic on the health and economy, and fully recover from the current and continuing impact of this crisis,” Yap said.

The pandemic has hampered opportunities for socio-economic growth and development, with many losing their jobs and livelihood following closures of companies.

“This budget carries the aspiration of our Filipino people to recover from the hardship brought by the pandemic to our livelihood and to recover the country’s economic growth. The timely passage of the General Appropriations Bill will ensure that our government, through its programs and projects, will be able to rebound, reset, and recover our lost momentum,” he said.

The proposed national budget is 9.9 percent higher than the PHP4.1-trillion appropriations for 2020 and equivalent to 21.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The bulk of next year’s proposed budget will be provided to the social services sector amounting to PHP1.664 trillion, equivalent to 36.9 percent. This includes funding support for programs related to health, social protection, and education.

The economic services sector will receive the second highest allocation with PHP1.347 trillion or 29.9 percent of the proposed budget.

Meanwhile, the general public services sector will be allocated with PHP724.2 billion, debt burden with PHP560.2 billion, and defense with PHP210.6 billion.

The Department of Education (DepEd), including state universities and colleges, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, remains the top agency with the biggest slice from the proposed budget with an allocation of PHP754.4 billion.

This is followed by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with a proposed budget of PHP667.3 billion, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with PHP246.1 billion, the Department of National Defense (DND) with PHP209.1 billion, the Department of Health (DOH) with PHP203.1 billion, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with PHP171.2 billion, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) with PHP143.6 billion, the Department of Agriculture with PHP66.4 billion, the Judiciary with PHP43.5 billion, and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) with PHP27.5 billion.

Earlier, budget deliberations were stalled due to the speakership tussle between then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his successor, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Cayetano’s move to abruptly suspend the session and hastily pass the 2021 budget bill on second reading on October 6 was an attempt to prevent any speakership takeover.

However, plenary debates eventually resumed on Tuesday after Velasco was elected by a majority of House members.

Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Duterte, Cayetano would serve as the House Speaker for the first 15 months, or until October 2020 while Velasco would take over and assume the position for the remaining 21 months or until the 18th Congress ends in 2022. (PNA)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *