Le­garda: Se­nate OKs 2018 na­tional bud­get

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORIES! - BY REY­NALDO G. NAVALES Sun.Star Staff Re­porter

CLARK FREEPORT — The Se­nate unan­i­mously ap­proved the pro­posed 2018 na­tional bud­get worth P3.767 tril­lion said Se­na­tor Loren Le­garda, Chair of the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Fi­nance and spon­sor of the bud­get.

On Wed­nes­day night, 16 se­na­tors present in ses­sion voted to ap­prove the pro­posed na­tional bud­get on third and fi­nal read­ing.

Le­garda said that the Se­nate in­creased to P51 bil­lion the al­lo­ca­tion for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Uni­ver­sal Ac­cess to Qual­ity Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Act. There is also an ad­di­tional fund­ing worth P327 mil­lion for free Wi-Fi in state uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges (SUCs) and pub­lic places and ad­di­tional Php10 Mil­lion for cap­i­tal out­lay for each SUC. Un­der the Com­mis­sion on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (CHED), there is fund­ing worth P250 mil­lion for free tu­ition for med­i­cal stu­dents en­rolled in SUCs.

Un­der the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (DepEd) bud­get, cash al­lowance of teach­ers will in­crease from P2,500 to P5,000 per teacher as the Se­nate pro­vided ad­di­tional P1.8 bil­lion; and there is also ad­di­tional P2.5 bil­lion for school-based feed­ing pr ogr am.

The bud­get will con­tinue to fund the Uni­ver­sal Health­care Pro­gram un­der PhilHealth so that all Filipinos are cov­ered by its Point-of-Ser­vice pro­gram. The Se­nate also al­lo­cated P6.5 bil­lion un­der PhilHealth to pro­vide for the health in­sur­ance of gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees un­der the ex­ec­u­tive depart­ment .

It also pro­vided fund­ing for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of Marawi City. There is P10 bil­lion un­der the Na­tional Dis­as­ter Risk Re­duc­tion and Man­age­ment (NDRRM) Fund for Marawi re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

“We have also pro­vided ad­di­tional fund­ing for the Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and Devel­op­ment (DSWD) cen­ters na­tion­wide in the amount of P3 bil­lion, while the Con­di­tional Cash Trans­fer (CCT) Pro­gram has a to­tal bud­get of P89 bil­lion,” said Le­gar da.

The Se­nate also ap­proved P60 bil­lion for the in­crease of base pay of mil­i­tary and uni­formed per­son­nel; while P1.647 bil­lion was al­lo­cated for the full pay­ment of to­tal ad­min­is­tra­tive dis­abil­ity (TAD) ar­rears for the sur­viv­ing spouses of World War II vet­er­ans. Mean­while, ad­di­tional P372 mil­lion was al­lo­cated un­der the Bureau of Cor­rec­tions for ad­di­tional prison fa­cil­i­ties.

Le­garda also ex­plained that the P900 mil­lion and P500 mil­lion for the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice’s (PNP) Oplan Dou­ble Bar­rel and MASA MASID, re­spec­tively, were re­aligned. Some P1.35 bil­lion was trans­ferred to the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP) Hous­ing Pro­gram; while the P50 mil­lion was al­lo­cated for ad­di­tional bud­get for ac­qui­si­tion of body cam­eras of po­lice of­fi­cers.

“Un­der the bud­get, we still have the P2 bil­lion sub­sidy for ir­ri­ga­tion fees of farmer as­so­ci­a­tions, which we first in­tro­duced in the 2017 bud­get. We also pro­vided ad­di­tional funds to boost liveli­hoods and the devel­op­ment of mi­cro, small and medium en­ter­prises (MSMEs), in­clud­ing the ad­di­tional P800 mil­lion for the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try’s (DTI) Shared Ser­vice Fa­cil­i­ties (SSF),” Le­garda said.

The Se­na­tor added that the 2018 Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Bill en­sures eco­log­i­cal in­tegrity, clean and healthy en­vi­ron­ment, risk-sen­si­tive in­vest­ments, and dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness through spe­cial pro­vi­sions that in­te­grate and main­stream dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion and cli­mate change adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies in gov­ern­ment pro­grams. “We firmly be­lieve that build­ing an in­clu­sive and pros­per­ous econ­omy re­quires us to con­tin­u­ally strengthen our re­silience to im­pacts of nat­u­ral haz­ards and cli­mate change,” she added.

The Se­nate and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will con­vene to­mor­row, Novem­ber 30, 2017, the bi­cam­eral con­fer­ence com­mit­tee to rec­on­cile the dif­fer­ences in their re­spec­tive ver­sions of the pro­posed 2018 na­tional bud­get.

The Se­nate panel will be com­posed of Le­garda as the chair­per­son, with Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore Ralph Recto, Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Franklin Drilon and Se­na­tors Cyn­thia Vil­lar, Sonny An­gara, Pan­filo Lac­son, Joseph Vic­tor Ejercito, Nancy Bi­nay, and Juan Miguel Zu­biri.

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