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The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 after a series of marathon sessions lasting past midnight.

By a 22-0 vote the chamber approved the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on third and final reading, with the Senate finance chair Sonny Angara saying it was a budget that focused on the urgent needs in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic as well as relief efforts for the recent calamities.

He said the Senate increased allocations in the budget for pandemic and disaster response.

“Considering that we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic, much of the increases the committee has made is in the health sector and with regards to our Covid-19 response,” he said.

“Indeed, there’s no better time to improve our healthcare system than when we are faced with a grave healthcare crisis,” Angara said.

A Senate contingent led by Angara will meet their counterparts from the House of Representatives in a bicameral conference committee next week to reconcile differences between their versions.

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