Senate OKs 2020 budget on 3rd, final reading | Inquirer News

Senate OKs 2020 budget on 3rd, final reading

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 03:58 PM November 27, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Thursday approved on third and final reading the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

Twenty-two of the 24 senators voted to approve the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) with no abstentions or negative votes.


“Nananatili pa rin po ang adhikain natin: Na ang pambansang budget ay budget ng pagbangon at pinaka-stratehiya natin mula sa bigat at hirap ng nakaraang taon (2020),” Senator Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said in a speech.

(We remain with our aim: That this national budget will be for our recovery, our strategy against the struggles of last year.)


According to Angara, the 2021 budget will focus on COVID-19 response, aid for victims of the recent typhoons and the revamp of the Philippine economy, among others.

“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.

COVID-19 vaccines

Under the Senate version of the budget, P8 billion is lodged under the Department of Health (DOH) for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines while P54 billion is placed under the unprogrammed appropriations or standby funds, which will be released depending on the government’s revenue collections.

Some P21 billion is also included under unprogrammed appropriations for the vaccines’ storage, transportation, and distribution costs.

There would also be “significant” additions to the budgets of DOH regional hospitals and other healthcare institutions under the spending bill.

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

The Senate also increased funding for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicines (RITM).


“More COVID-19 laboratories will be trained, more in vitro diagnostic medical devices for COVID-19 will be evaluated, and the surveillance of influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infections will be expanded,” Angara said.

“The pandemic has only highlighted the critical role the RITM plays in safeguarding our society. By providing them more funds now, we hope to further empower them and save more lives,” he added.

For contact tracing, the Senate gave P1 billion for contact tracing under the budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

During budget debates, senators learned that the DILG did not propose any budget for 2021 to implement contact tracing efforts.

The budget would also include a Disaster Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Assistance Program for local government units under the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF).

“Significant funding will be set aside to help LGUs build shelter and resettlements, as well as roads, bridges, flood control, and evacuation facilities,” he said.

“This fund may also be used for agriculture support,” he added.


The implementation of the social amelioration program (SAP), which was first mandated under two Bayanihan laws, was given P10-billion under the proposed budget for next year.

This, in addition to the P102.69-billion earmarked for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a cash transfer program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Over P15.8 billion was also allocated for the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para Sa Ating Disadvantaged Displaced/ Workers (TUPAD) program.

Transport Infrastructure Upgrades

The Senate also augmented funding for the repair, rehabilitation, and upgrading of infrastructure involving the transport sector with a P226-million increase for ports and a P1.228-billion hike for airport projects.


The education sector remains to have the highest amount of funding under the budget, with over P712 billion.

This amount covers the Department of Education’s budgets, the Commission on Higher Education, State Universities and Colleges, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

After the upper chamber’s approval, the Senate and the House of Representatives will then convene in a bicameral conference committee to reconcile their versions of the budget bill.

Angara will lead the Senate contingent to the bicam.

Aside from Angara, the chamber’s panel will include Senators Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Panfilo Lacson, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Christopher “Bong” Go, Imee Marcos, Risa Hontiveros, Grace Poe and Francis Pangilinan.

Meanwhile, Senators Manny Pacquiao, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Nancy Binay and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. were named alternates.

In October, the budget faced fears of delay when the House of Representatives, under the then Speaker, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, unexpectedly suspended session before the lower chamber can approve the budget bill on final reading.

After convening for a special session to pass the budget measure on final reading from October 13 to 16, the House could transmit the spending bill to the Senate last October 27 while Congress was on break.

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TAGS: 2020 budget, 2020 GAB, 2020 General Appropriations Bill, Local news, Nation, National Budget, natonal news, News, Philippine news updates, Senate
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