House ratifies P3.35-T nat’l budget for 2017
The House of Representatives on Tuesday evening ratified the P3.35 trillion proposed national budget for 2017.
This after the lower House agreed to the Senate proposal to reallocate P8.3 billion from the budget for development projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the Commission on Higher Education to finance free tuition of state universities and colleges (SUCs).
In a statement on Tuesday, appropriations committee chair Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said the House stood its ground during the bicameral conference that the budgetary allocation for ARMM development projects was not a violation of the ARMM Organic Act as claimed by the Senate.
But eventually, the House agreed with the Senate to just reallocate the fund for ARMM projects to finance free tuition for students of SUCs, to avoid a reenacted budget in 2017, Nograles said.
“We are one with the position of President Duterte that we really need to develop Mindanao if we want to defeat the insurgency problem in the region, which is why we programmed infrastructure projects in Mindanao, including the ARMM. But some members of the Senate opined that this could be in violation of the ARMM Organic Act. This created some sort of deadlock as the House stood its ground since we saw nothing in the Organic Act of the ARMM that prohibits the national government from implementing infrastructure projects in ARMM especially if identified in the medium term development plan,” Nograles said.
“In the end, we decided to give in just so that a budget is passed because we do not want a re-enacted budget,” Nograles said.
Congress ratified the budget after both houses of Congress met in a bicameral conference to thresh out its differing versions of the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The ratification of the budget signals the submission of the budget for approval by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The following realignment were among the amendments in the 2017 budget:
- Additional of 1,000 Cash allowance for teachers – P770M
- Additional funds for scholarship in SUCS – P1.2 billion
- Free tuition for Medical students – P317 million
- Supplemental feeding of P1 billion for DSWD
- Centenarian fund of P100 million
- Irrigation fees subsidy of P2 billion
- Pondo sa pag-asenso at pagbabago fund of P1 billion;
- Additional increase of PhilHealth subsidy – P3 billion
- Additional funds for Doctors to the barrios and construction of health facilities – P1.5 billion
- Additional P2.8 billion for the Department of National Defense to defend the country from internal and external threats.
The 2017 GAA, dubbed the “budget for change,” is 11.6 percent higher than the P3.002 trillion national budget this year.
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, and 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 for this purpose 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.