House approves proposed 2017 budget on final reading
The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the proposed P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017.
At least 243 lawmakers voted to approve by nominal voting the House BIll 3408 or the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2017. There were five lawmakers who voted against and one abstained.
The House earlier approved the bill on second reading last Oct. 5.
The third reading approval signals both Houses of Congress to consolidate their versions of the bill and ratify it before the President signs it into law.
The 2017 GAA, dubbed the “budget for change,” is 11.6 percent higher than the P3.002-trillion national budget this year.
In a statement, Davao city Rep. Karlo Nograles, who chairs the appropriations committee, said the final approval of the budget “puts us one step closer to our quest for a lasting and meaningful change.”
“The P3.35 Trillion budget will effectuate the Duterte administration’s reform agenda and ensure its success in the war against drugs, criminality and poverty,” Nograles said.
Nograles said the House would wait for the final reading approval of the budget in the Senate, before Congress convenes into a bicameral conference next month to consolidate their versions of the appropriation law.
Nograles said Congress plans to ratify the budget before the Christmas break.
According to sectors, the biggest share of the pie or 40 percent goes to social services under which P1.345 trillion was earmarked for social services such as education, culture, health, social security, housing, land distribution, among others. This was an increase from the P1.12-trillion budget in 2016.
At least 27.58 percent or P923.954 billion of the pie was allocated to economic services, such as agriculture and agrarian reform, natural resources and environment, trade and industry, tourism, power and energy, communication, and roads and other transport, among others. This was an increase from the P834.029 billion budget in 2016.
At least 17.37 percent or P581.835 billion was earmarked for general public services such as general administration, and public order and safety, among others. This was an increase from the P497.975 billion budget in 2016.
At least 10 percent or P334.877 billion of the budget would go to debt servicing and interest payment, a decrease from the P392.797-billion budget this year.
Finally, at least 4.41 percent or P147.762 billion was allocated to defense, an increase from the P130.687-billion budget in 2016.
The top 10 departments with the highest budgetary allocation (including the allocation for special purposes) are as follows:
- Department of Education: P567.561 billion, from P433.383 billion in 2016
- Department of Public Works and Highways: P458.61 billion, from P397.108 billion
- Department of Interior and Local Government: P150.050 billion, from P125.399 billion
- Department of National Defense: P134.54 billion, from P117.73 billion
- Department of Social Welfare and Development: P129.912 billion, from P110.9 billion
- Department of Health: P94.046 billion, from P124.95 billion
- State Universities and Colleges: P58.812 billion, from P49.661 billion
- Department of Transportation (formerly Department of Transportation and Communications or DOTC): P55.478 billion, from P44.298 billion (of the DOTC)
- Department of Agriculture: P45.291 billion, from P48.94 billion
- Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: P41.782 billion, from P29.41 billion
The budget for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was also substantially increased to support the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, criminality and terrorism.
The proposed budget for the PNP amounted to P110.4 billion, or 24.6 percent higher than its 2016 budget, for the national police force to hire more personnel and purchase more guns and patrol vehicles to intensify its suppression of criminality.
Meanwhile, the proposed budget for the AFP is P130.6 billion, or 15 percent higher than the 2016 budget, to complement the AFP Modernization Program, under which P25 billion was allocated to better equip soldiers for counter terrorism.
Lastly, the Office of the President has an approved budget of P19.99 billion, up 607 percent because more than three fourths or 77 percent or P15.46 billion was earmarked for the Philippine hosting of the 50th anniversary of the Asean summit in 2017.
The Office of the Vice President, meanwhile, has an approved P428.618 million budget, or 14.28 percent lower than the 2016 budget of P500 million, brought about by the cost-cutting measures after the office moved from the Coconut Palace to the Quezon City Reception House. RAM
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