MANILA, Philippines (Updated 8:30 p.m.) — Both chambers of Congress on Wednesday approved the final version of the Duterte administration’s penultimate budget worth P4.5 trillion.
In a tweet Wednesday night, the House announced that it has ratified the bicameral committee report on the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
A few hours later, the Senate also ratified the bicameral version of the proposed 2021 national budget.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the approval of the 2021 national budget “reflects the serious commitment of the Duterte government to defeat COVID-19 and bring the economy back on track.”
“When we keep our commitments to our fellow Filipinos and continue to put their interests first, we will surely overcome the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic,” Velasco said.
The final version of the budget bill includes P20 billion allocation for COVID-19 vaccines, P2 billion for the purchase of personal protective equipment and P462 million for the Medical Health Assistance Program and P100 million for the mental health program under the Department of Health.
The top 10 recipients of the 2021 budget are the following:
- Education (DepEd, SUCs, CHED, TESDA) – P708.2 billion
- DPWH – P694.8 billion
- Health (DOH, PhilHealth, Vaccines) – P287.5 billion
- DILG – P247.5 billion
- DND – P205.5 billion
- DSWD – P176.7 billion
- DOTr – P87.4 billion
- DA – P68.6 billion
- Judiciary – P44.1 billion
- DOLE – P36.3 billion
As of writing, the Senate is still deliberating on the final version of the 2021 budget.
Once approved by both chambers of Congress, the bill can be forwarded to the president for final approval.
According to Velasco, the enrolled copy of the 2021 GAB will be sent next week to Malacañang for the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte. — Patricia Lourdes Viray with report from Xave Gregorio
The Duterte administration is set to submit its penultimate budget proposal for Congress’s consideration on Tuesday, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado says.
“We’ve arranged the submission today after lunch,” Avisado says in a text message.
The proposed budget will be worth P4.506 trillion, 9.9% higher than this year’s P4.1-trillion outlay. The government says the outlay would prioritize ongoing response to the pandemic. — Prinz Magtulis
The House of Representatives ratifies the proposed P4.506 trillion national budget for 2021.
Deliberations on the 2021 national budget are still ongoing at the Senate as of writing time.
Once approved by both chambers of Congress, the proposed budget can be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.
The House ratifies the bicameral conference committee report on the 2021 General Appropriations Bill. pic.twitter.com/vrMdPAWYAy
— House of Representatives of the Philippines (@HouseofRepsPH) December 9, 2020
The bicameral committee on the 2021 budget panel reconvenes today led by Rep. Eric Yap (ACT-CIS partylist) of the House appropriations panel and Sen. Sonny Angara of the Senate’s finance panel.
The joint panels are aiming to ratify the P4.5-trillion budget in the afternoon. — Image from the Office of Sen. Angara
The Senate moves to increase the budget allocation for the national broadband to P5.9 billion to speed up the rollout of services in underprivileged areas.
The National Expenditure Program initially allotted only P900 million for the National Telecommunications Communication, which Sen. Grace Poe describes as “quite laughable.”
“We increased that to at least P5.9 billion for 2021. This is just for the first phase. We have to contend with the DICT’s absorptive capacity which is why we didn’t go all out,” Poe says at the Senate committee on public services, which she chairs.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros warns against a P2.04-billion cut on the 2021 budget of the Department of Health amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The senator says it is crucial for government hospitals to cover the costs of regular operations, including utilities, medicine, diagnostic procedures, IV fluids and other expenses.
“Billions worth of cuts in the middle of a pandemic means we drastically slashed the capacity of government hospitals to provide services and medicines for free. Dahil dito, aakyat pa ang out-of-pocket expenses ng mga tao. This is grossly anti-poor and anti-people,” Hontiveros says.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says the tourism industry needs more funding in the proposed 2021 national budget, describing the allocation for the DOT as meager.
He says no provisions were made for cash-for-work programs for tourism employees.
“Tourism is the second biggest contributor to the country’s GDP. Instead of rewarding and supporting the DOT and tourism enterprises, our national budget keeps on decreasing its support for the tourism industry,” Drilon is quoted as saying during the Senate hearing on the agency’s proposed 2021 budget.
He says that the P3.52-billion allocation for the Department of Tourism, down from P4.9 billion proposed by the agency, “is insufficient given the sector’s contribution to the economy and its capability to bring back economic activities halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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