House approves on 2nd reading proposed P5.7 trillion budget for 2024
MANILA, Philippines — House of Representatives has approved House Bill Number 8980, which contains the proposed 2024 national budget worth P5.7 trillion, on second reading during Wednesday’s session.
General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which details the amendments made during committee meetings and after the plenary debates, was approved via viva voce or voice voting.
It is not yet clear what major amendments have been made to the GAB, but Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said on September 23 that House agreed to increase the budget of National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
NIA had asked the House leadership for the restoration of its original P132.3 billion proposed budget for 2024, which Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had slashed in the National Expenditures Program (NEP).
Romualdez said with the tight fiscal space, what the House can do is to double NIA’s P41.2 billion budget.
It is also unclear if the confidential funds (CF) lodged with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) would be reduced.
Earlier, ranking House members called for the increase in the confidential and intelligence (CIF) of agencies involved in defending the country’s territories in West Philippine Sea.
According to the lawmakers, they want an increase in CIF because it will strengthen the capability of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and National Security Council (NSC) to assert Philippines’ sovereign rights in territorial disputes.
House committee on appropriations chairperson and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co told INQUIRER.net in a message that they are looking at the CFs in OVP and DepEd as possible sources for realignment to the defense-oriented agencies.
House passed the GAB on second reading in less than 60 days since it received NEP from DBM.
DBM handed NEP to the chamber on August 2 — way ahead of the deadline set by law.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the executive should submit the NEP within 30 days after the President’s State of the Nation Address.
According to Romualdez, Co, and committee on appropriations senior vice chairperson and Marikina Second District Representative Stella Quimbo, they are looking to pass the GAB on third and final reading on Wednesday, just before Congress adjourns its session on Saturday, September 30.
With President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. certifying HB No. 8980 as urgent, House can approve the bill on the same day.
This action means lawmakers are waiving the requirement of waiting for three session days before a bill passed on second reading is considered for third reading.