Senate cuts DPWH budget, restores P20 B to DOH
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has reduced the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) but restored some P20 billion to the budget of the Department of Health.
On Monday, 14 senators passed on third and final reading the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019.
The Senate version of the 2019 general Appropriation Bill (GAB) contained several amendments such as the “reduction” in the DPWH’s budget.
“The reduction in the DPWH budget is due to the cut in the ROW (right of way) and various projects which are not part of the DPWH original submission to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management),” Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, explained.
“However, this will be partially offset by the increase in local projects,” she added.
It was not clear whether the reduction she was referring to pertains to the controversial P75 billon that was added to the DPWH’s budget without its knowledge.
But Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said the said amount was deleted entirely from the DPWH.
“Yes,” Sotto said in a text message when asked if the P75 billion was deleted from the DPWH’s budget.
“(It) was distributed to various departments needing funds like DOH and others,” he said.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar himself admitted that he only learned about the additional P75 billion when he saw the National Expenditure Program, which is submitted by Malacañang to Congress.
While it reduced the budget of the DPWH, the Senate restored the P16.796-billion budget for Health Facilities Enhancement Program and P4.797 billion of the P7 billion requirement for Human Resource for Health Development under the DOH.
For the Department of Education (DepEd), Legarda said the Senate also approved P800 million for the allowance of teachers to be given during the World Teachers’ Day.
“Additional allocation for DepEd will also include increase in QRF (Quick Response Fund), School-based Feeding Program, Quality Teacher and Development Program, Computerization Program and Textbooks and Other Instructional Materials,” she said.
Legarda also enumerated the additional funding for various agencies, including Congress, the Office of the Vice President, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of National Defence, the Department of Welfare and Development, and the Department of Tourism, among others.
She said the Senate also reflected realignments within the unprogrammed fund for the following:
a. Rice Competiveness Enhancement Fund (P10 billion);
b. Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Fund (P10 billion);
c. Implementation of the Universal Health Care (P18 billion);
d. and Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao (P40 billion). /ee
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