Proposed P5.024-T budget for 2022 up for Duterte’s signature
MANILA, Philippines — The proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
This, after the Senate, ratified on Wednesday the report containing the reconciled version of the 2022 budget agreed upon by both houses of Congress through a bicameral conference committee.
“Taglay pa rin po ng [bicam] report na ito ang adhikain na magsilbing pangunahing paraan para tuluyang makaahon muli ang bansa mula sa pandemya [The bicam report still contains our objective that the budget will serve as the primary way for the country to recover from the pandemic],” said Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee.
The House of Representatives ratified the report in its plenary session earlier in the afternoon.
Angara, in a speech before the Senate ratified the report, meanwhile said the bicam gave an “even bigger augmentation” to the Department of Health (DOH) for its Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) to the tune of P22.99 billion.
The reconciled version of the budget also gave “significant” funding of over P21 billion to help DOH hospitals across the country.
All in all, the DOH has an allocated budget of P188.3 billion under the bicam report, Angara said in a message to reporters.
Congress also allocated close to P3 billion to fund the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act that would grant full medical scholarships to eligible Filipinos students in a bid to address the shortage of doctors in the Philippines.
In compliance with the 1987 Constitution, education still has the largest chunk of the proposed 2022 budget, according to Angara.
“Mahalaga ang mga pondo na ito lalo na na dadahn dahan tayong bumabalik sa face-to-face classes,” he added.
Further, Angara said that lawmakers agreed to maintain a provision that would allow schools to use their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) funds to enhance their facilities and improve ventilation in anticipation of in-person classes.
These funds can also be diverted for the COVID-19 testing of faculty members and non-teaching staff.
Support for teachers is also maintained under the bicam report, Angara said.
Meanwhile, Angara said Congress is giving the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) over P700 billion.
To ensure that the public works projects to be done by the government will really be for the interest of the public, Angara said a special provision was introduced for that would require the construction of protected lanes for pedestrians, bikers and those using “active transporation” in all road projects in the country.
Angara said funding will also be allocated for the Gender Responsive Restroom Program to put in place “all gender” restrooms in public transport terminals in the country in a bid to provide a “safe space” for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Congress also provided P5 billion for the government’s social amelioration program for next year, according to the Senate.
Over P25 billion was allocated for the social pension of senior citizens while P39.865 billion was allotted for the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations under the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“Tuluy-tuloy pa rin ang 4Ps o ang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program funded to an amount of P107.670 billion. Kasama nito ang rice subsidy,” Angara added.
Funds were also allocated for a fuel subsidy program to benefit qualified drivers of public utility vehicles, taxis, tricycles, ride-hailing and delivery service persons, including affected fisherfolk and farmers.
Congress also augmented the budgets of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Tourism under the bicam report, according to Angara.
Further, the senator said Congress ensured that landmark laws will have funding under the proposed 2022 budget.
These laws include the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, the Universal Health Care Act, the Mental Health Law, the Free Internet in Public Spaces Act, National Academy for Sports Law, among others.
“The measure we are ratifying today stands as the last budget under the administration of President Duterte,” Angara said.
“It leaves not only a fine legacy filled with landmark laws and game-changing projects and programs, but also lays down the foundation from which future administrations can raise the country even higher and achieve successes beyond any of our ambitions,” he added.
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