MANILA — The Senate on Wednesday night unanimously approved on third and final reading its version of the proposed 2018 national budget worth PHP3.767 trillion.
It was approved with 16 votes in the affirmative and zero in the negative.
Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Commitee on Finance, listed in a press statement the salient features on the Senate’s version of the national budget which include the following:
- PHP51 billion allocation for the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act
- PHP327 million for free Wi-Fi in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and public places and additional PHP 10 million for capital outlay for each SUC
- PHP250 million for free tuition for medical students enrolled in SUCs under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
- PHP1.8 billion for cash allowance of teachers; and PHP 2.5 billion for school-based feeding program under the Department of Education (DepEd) budget
- PHP6.5 billion to fund the Universal Healthcare Program under PhilHealth to provide for the health insurance of government employees under the executive department
- PHP10 billion under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Fund for Marawi rehabilitation
- PHP3 billion for the Department of Social and Welfare and Development (DSWD) centers nationwide worth while the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program has PHP 89 billion
- PHP60 billion for the increase of base pay of military and uniformed personnel; PHP 1.647 billion for the full payment of total administrative disability (TAD) arrears for the surviving spouses of World War II veterans, and PHP 372 million under the Bureau of Corrections for additional prison facilities.
- PHP900 million and PHP 500 million for the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Oplan Double Barrel and MASA MASID, respectively, were realigned
- PHP1.35 billion was transferred to the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Housing Program; while the PHP50 million was allocated for additional budget for acquisition of body cameras of police officers
- PHP2 billion subsidy for irrigation fees of farmer associations and additional funds to boost livelihoods and the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including the additional
- PHP800 million for the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Shared Service Facilities (SSF)
A bicameral conference will be held on Bonifacio Day (November 30) to reconcile the differences between the respective versions of the Senate and House of Representatives (HoR).
The Senate panel will be composed of Legarda as the chairperson, with Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo Angara, Panfilo Lacson, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Nancy Binay, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The proposed 2018 national budget is expected to be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte on the second week of December and enacted before Christmas.
Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, assured that the 2018 national budget is “pro-people”, “socially inclusive”, “gender sensitive”, “climate adaptive” among others.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier said that the proposed 2018 national budget prioritizes education and infrastructure development, particularly for the government’s infrastructure program, “Build, Build, Build”, and the provision of social services to the people. (PNA)