Bicam panel finalizes next year’s P5.768T nat’l budget bill
MANILA, Philippines — The bicameral conference committee has drafted the final version of the 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which contains the proposed P5.768 trillion budget for next year.
In a meeting on Monday, the chairpersons of appropriations panels from both chambers of Congress – Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co and Senator Sonny Angara – confirmed that the bicameral conference committee has already resolved conflicting provisions in the 2024 GAB.
Angara did not make a speech at the start of the bicam panel’s meeting, but Co thanked colleagues from both the House and Senate for breaking the impasse on the budget.
“I wish to extend my deep sense of gratitude and appreciation to each Member of the Bicameral Conference Committee for their collective support in breaking the impasse in crafting the final version of the 2024 General Appropriations Act. To my counterpart, Chairperson Sonny Angara, thank you for your time and attention in bridging our differing versions of the bill,” Co said.
“We thoroughly navigated the complexities of each budgetary allocation and policy consideration and took bold steps to a new era of solutions that transcend the conventional boundaries of government operations. We have challenged the status quo and embraced the unconventional to craft solutions to address the dynamic needs of our citizens,” he added.
After this, both appropriation panel chairpersons granted motions to approve the bicam report on the GAB.
When asked what the impasse was, Angara told reporters in a subsequent ambush interview that Co was referring to the 16 special provisions that the House and Senate contingents debated about.
“(There were) around 16 provisions na naiwan from halos whole week kami nag-meeting […] Actually mga details lang no’ng ibang special provisions kasi for instance may gustong idagdag ‘yong House minsan may gustong idagdag ‘yong Senate. ‘Yong usage of proceed of certain funds. Mga ganon,” Angara said.
(There were around 16 provisions left from the almost whole week meetings […] Actually, it’s just about details of the other special provisions because, for instance, the House wants to add something, or the Senate wants to add details. Like the usage of proceeds of certain funds.)
“Well may konting back and forth but I think naintindihan naman nila because ‘yon nga, given what had transpired […] Well, impasse pero eventually na settle naman. I think, a little give and take, gano’n talaga you don’t always get what you want. Di laging Senate version ang nasusunod, hindi laging House version. May konting give and take,” he added.
(Well, there’s a little back and forth, but I think they understood that because given what had transpired […] Well, it’s an impasse, but it was eventually settled. I think a little give and take, that’s how it is; you don’t always get what you want. It’s not always that the Senate or the House version is followed. There’s a little bit of give and take.)
This development means that the government’s spending plan bill will now be up for ratification by the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively, and then transmitted to the chief executive’s office for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s signature.
Angara said the Senate may ratify the GAB later during the session.
Bicameral meetings hammered out several disagreeing provisions in the fiscal measure, including the issue of confidential funds (CF) realignment from the pocket of civilian agencies that do not have the mandate to perform investigation or surveillance of security offices involved in protecting the West Philippine Sea.