Manila Bulletin

House passes ₱4.5-tril­lion bud­get for 2021

- By BEN R. ROSARIO

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed on third and fi­nal read­ing the pro­posed 2021 Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Act as it ended Fri­day night the four-day spe­cial ses­sion called by Pres­i­dent Duterte. The third and fi­nal read­ing pas­sage of the P4.506-tril­lion na­tional bud­get bill was im­me­di­ately con­ducted af­ter the sec­ond read­ing ap­proval. This was made pos­si­ble as the pro­posed mea­sure was cer­ti­fied by Pres­i­dent Duterte as ur­gent ad­min­is­tra­tion bill.

In a vir­tual ple­nary ses­sion, the Lower Cham­ber reg­is­tered 257 af­fir­ma­tive and six neg­a­tive votes to pass House Bill 7727 or the pro­posed 2021 GAA on third and fi­nal read­ing.

The six Mak­abayan solons, namely: Reps. Car­los Zarate (Bayan Muna); Ofe­lia Cul­la­mat (Bayan Muna); Fer­di­nand Gaite

(Bayan Muna); France Cas­tro (ACTTeach­ers Partylist); Ar­lene Brosas (Gabriela Partylist); and Sara Jane Elago (Ka­bataan) thumbed down the bud­get mea­sure.

Speaker Lord Allan Ve­lasco presided over the third read­ing vot­ing, his first since as­sum­ing the House lead­er­ship on Tues­day.

Pre­vi­ously, Deputy Speaker and 1Pac­man Party-list Rep. Mi­kee Romero spent nearly seven hours on the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer’s ros­trum.

ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, chair­man of the House Com­mit­tee on Ap­pro­pri­a­tions, as­sured the Se­nate that the “soft copy” of the pro­posed P4.506-tril­lion ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill should be ex­pected by Oc­to­ber 28.

“Wala na pong dahi­lan para ma­reen­act o ma-de­lay ang bud­get para sa taong 2021 (There is no more rea­son for the re-en­act­ment or de­lay of the bud­get for 2021),” Yap stated.

Prior to sec­ond read­ing ap­proval, the cham­ber agreed to cre­ate a small com­mit­tee that will re­ceive in­di­vid­ual amend­ments un­til Oc­to­ber 19. The body will be com­posed of Ma­jor­ity Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Ro­mualdez, Reps. Jack Duavit, Joet Gar­cia, Joey Sarte Sal­ceda, Eileen Buhain, Ber­nadette Her­rera, Sharon Garin, Doy Lea­chon, XJ Ro­mualdo, Luis Lloren Cuaresma, and Edgar Marie Sarmiento. Reps. Stella Quimbo and Ed­cel Lag­man will rep­re­sent the mi­nor­ity and in­de­pen­dents in the said com­mit­tee.

Print­ing of the House ver­sion of the bud­get mea­sure is re­quired for trans­mis­sion to the Se­nate but con­gress­men be­lieve that a soft copy will al­low sen­a­tors to act on the mea­sure when they re­sume ses­sion on Novem­ber 9.

On Thurs­day, the Se­nate sought, and was granted the per­mis­sion of the Lower House to con­duct reg­u­lar ses­sions start­ing Novem­ber 9, a week ahead of the ap­proved leg­isla­tive cal­en­dar.

Ap­proval of the bud­get mea­sure was de­layed for at least two to three days, with the speak­er­ship squab­ble blamed as the main fac­tor.

On Oc­to­ber 6, the Lower Cham­ber, un­der the lead­er­ship of then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, passed the bud­get mea­sure on sec­ond read­ing. On that same day, Cayetano moved for the sus­pen­sion of ses­sion un­til Novem­ber 16.

The twin ac­tion, re­port­edly cal­cu­lated at al­low­ing Cayetano to dodge his im­pend­ing re­moval as speaker, was frowned upon by many, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Duterte who called Congress to a spe­cial ses­sion from Oc­to­ber 13 to 16.

Swiftly, now un­der Speaker Ve­lasco, the Lower House re­called sec­ond read­ing ap­proval to al­low ex­haus­tive ple­nary de­lib­er­a­tion of bud­get pro­pos­als of a num­ber of key gov­ern­ment agen­cies such as the Depart­ment of Health, Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways, Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, and the Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment.

In his turno-en-con­tra speech, Deputy Mi­nor­ity Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Car­los Zarate as­sailed the P1.1-tril­lion in­fra­struc­ture bud­get that al­lo­cates a “mea­ger” P2.3 bil­lion or 0.21 per­cent for the con­struc­tion of hos­pi­tals and health cen­ters.

But while gov­ern­ment al­legedly scrimped on ap­pro­pri­a­tions for vi­tal ser­vices such as health, it granted the Na­tional Task Force to End Lo­cal Com­mu­nist Armed Con­flict (NTFELCAC) a “gen­eral’s pork” worth P19.1 bil­lion.

The Depart­ment of Bud­get and Man­age­ment planned out the spend­ing pri­or­i­ties in the wake of the COVID-19 pan­demic un­der the slo­gan: “Re­set, Re­cover, Re­bound.”

Un­der the pro­posed bud­get, the top 10 de­part­ments re­ceiv­ing the largest al­lo­ca­tion are:

• Depart­metn of Ed­u­ca­tion and ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram – P754.4 bil­lion

• Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways – P667.3 bil­lion

• Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment – P246.1 bil­lion

• Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fense – P209.1 bil­lion

• Depart­ment of Health – P203.1 bil­lion

• Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment – P171.2 bil­lion

• Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion – P143.6 bil­lion

• Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture – P66.4 bil­lion

• Ju­di­ciary – P43.5 bil­lion

• Depart­ment of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment – P27.5 bil­lion.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the univer­sal health care pro­gram will re­ceive a to­tal P203.1 bil­lion, with the much-crit­i­cized Na­tional Health In­surance Pro­gram re­ceiv­ing only P71.4 bil­lion and As­sis­tance to In­di­gent Pa­tients, P17.3 bil­lion.

For so­cial pro­tec­tion the pro­posed 2021 ex­pen­di­ture will be:

• Pantawid Pam­ilyang Pilipino Pro­gram – P113.8 bil­lion • So­cial Pen­sion for In­di­gent Se­nior Cit­i­zens – P23.2 bil­lion • Fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stance – P12 bil­lion

 ?? (Ali Vi­coy) ?? A MOTHER’S GRIEF – Don­ning pro­tec­tive equip­ment, de­tained ac­tivist Reina Mae Nasino (right photo) qui­etly weeps as her three-month-old baby River is laid to rest at the Manila North Ceme­tery on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 16. Left photo shows ac­tivists get­ting into a scuf­fle with po­lice­men dur­ing the fu­neral march.
(Ali Vi­coy) A MOTHER’S GRIEF – Don­ning pro­tec­tive equip­ment, de­tained ac­tivist Reina Mae Nasino (right photo) qui­etly weeps as her three-month-old baby River is laid to rest at the Manila North Ceme­tery on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 16. Left photo shows ac­tivists get­ting into a scuf­fle with po­lice­men dur­ing the fu­neral march.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines