Select House panel realigns P65-B funds
MANILA, Philippines — A small select group of congressmen has realigned P65.504 billion from the P5.024-trillion general appropriations bill the House of Representatives passed on September 30, but made no mention of where the realigned funds came from.
ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap, chair of the House committee on appropriations, did not reply to repeated requests from journalists for an explanation on which program funds were changed since the budget’s total amount remained the same.
Aside from Yap, the small committee included Majority Leader Martin Romualdez; ways and means panel chair Joey Salceda; Deputy Minority Leader Stella Quimbo; and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.
Instead, Yap said in a statement: “Rest assured that the government’s battle strategy on health and nutrition, social protection, governance, and development are carried out in this budget.”
In the budget approved on September 30, there was no special risk allowance (SRA) for healthcare workers while a P45-billion budget for COVID-19 booster shots was placed under unprogrammed funds.
After the amendments made by the House, P20 billion was allocated to the Department of Health (DOH) for the procurement of vaccines and booster shots while the agency was also earmarked P4.5 billion for the SRA of qualified public and private health workers.
The small committee also allocated P5 billion for the medical assistance for indigent patients program of the DOH.
The Department of Labor and Employment will receive P10 billion for its Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers program, which will prioritize indigent families, informal sector families, and those under the next lower poverty level.
A fund of P10 billion was earmarked for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation, which includes food, transportation, burial, and cash assistance, among others, to individuals, sectors, and communities in difficult circumstances.
The agency was also given P1 billion for its Sustainable Livelihood Program to enable each qualified household beneficiary to enroll in two different tracks—the Micro-Enterprise Development and the Employment Facilitation through technical and vocational skills training.
The lawmakers also allocated P6 billion to the service contracting program of the Department of Transportation.
The Department of National Defense will also receive an additional P5.5 billion as down payment for the acquisition of five units of C-130 J cargo planes for the humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations of the Philippine Air Force.
The Department of Information and Communications was also allocated an additional P3 billion for its national broadband program, which aims to provide faster, efficient, and equitable broadband connectivity in the country.
In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College in Lanao del Sur, Cotabato State University, Sulu State College, and Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural College will receive a total of P504 million after Mindanao lawmakers said these schools were given zero budget in 2022.
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