Voting 223-9, House OKs proposed P3.77-T nat’l budget
The House of Representatives approved on Tuesday on third and final reading the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018.
Voting nominally 223-9, the House approved the General Appropriations Bill (House Bill No. 6215).
The proposed budget includes the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) slashed budget of P508.5-million, or P114.8 million lower than its initial proposal of P623.3 million, and even less than its current P724.9-million budget, according to Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.
“With its slashed budget, the CHR will be hampered in its human rights protection and promotion advocacy programs,” Lagman said in a statement.
The CHR programs and projects affected were P47 million for human rights protection; P24.4 million for human rights promotion; P33.4 million for human rights policy advisory; and P10 million for equipment capital outlay.
The proposed allocation was moved to fund the Duterte administration’s free college education law, said House committee on appropriations chair Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles.
The nine lawmakers who voted against the budget were members of the Makabayan bloc:
- Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas
- Teachers Rep. France Castro
- Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao
- Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus
- Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago
- ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio
- Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate
- Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano
- Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza
Alejano argued that the 2018 budget was a budget that “patronizes killings” as it funded the administration’s controversial war on drugs, which he called a program that is based on dubious and questionable data.”
“This war has so far claimed thousands of lives of the poor that this budget supposedly aims to serve,” he said in the explanation of his vote.
Zarate, for his part, said the national budget promoted the culture of impunity and human rights violation with the P900-million budget of the Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded, the Philippine National Police’s anti-drug and criminality campaign.
“There’s no real change, no ‘strong, comfortable, and peaceful life’ that the people hoped for in the proposed 2018 national budget,” he said.
The proposed 2018 General Appropriations Act is up 12.4 percent from this year’s budget of P3.35 trillion.
The highest allocation of the budget would go to education, as mandated in the Constitution, with P710.5 billion covering the Department of Education state universities and colleges, the Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The fund also included the P40-billion allocation for the newly-passed free college education law.
The Department of Public Works and Highways will get the second biggest share of the pie, with P639.8 billion, in support of the administration’s ambitious P3.6 trillion three-year infrastructure program.
Following DPWH with P172.3 billion allocation is the Department of THE Interior and Local Government; Department of Health with P164.5 billion; Department of National Defense with P145 billion; Department of Social Welfare Development with P137.1 billion; Department of Transportation with P67.9 billion; Department of Agriculture with P54.2 billion; the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao with P33.5 billion and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with P27.9 billion.
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