Senate ratifies P3.7-T national budget for 2018

By , on December 13, 2017

Sen. Loren Legarda on Wednesday lauded the Quezon City court’s ruling ordering the release of PHP178 million worth of retirement benefits for lawyers working for the Public Attorneys Office (PAO). (PNA photo)
FILE: Senate Committee on Finance Chair Sen. Loren Legarda (PNA photo)

MANILA — The Senate on Tuesday night ratified the proposed PHP3.7 trillion national budget for 2018 just days before it goes on recess on Dec. 16.

On the same day, the House of Representatives (HoR) also ratified the budget which is now set to be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.

Before the budget was ratified in the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned why the PHP50.7 billion budget cut in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was restored and given an additional PHP11 billion.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, promised to give Lacson a copy of the breakdown of the budget. Lacson did not object when the Senate voted to ratify the budget.

Legarda, in a statement, said the budget prioritizes education, healthcare, livelihood, shelter and sustainable growth.

It provides for free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs), support for farmers, increase in teachers’ allowance and base pay of military and uniformed personnel, and the rehabilitation of Marawi City, among others.

Here is a breakdown of some allocations in the 2018 national budget:

  • PHP40 billion for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act which will provide free college education in all of the country’s state unviersities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs) and state-run technical-vocational institutions;
  • PHP10 million for capital outlay for each SUC to address their infrastructure and equipment needs;
  • PHP327 million for free Wi-Fi in SUCs and public places;
  • PHP250 million funding under the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for free tuition for medical students enrolled in SUCs;
  • PHP5 billion for PhilHealth Plus to provide for the health insurance of government employees under the executive department;
  • PHP89 billion for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program;
  • PHP80 billion in the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the rehabilitation of social welfare and activity centers and Bahay Pagasa juvenile detentions;
  • PHP669 billion for the construction, restoration or improvement of small-scale irrigation projectsunder the Department of Agriculture;
  • PHP281 billion for the construction of facilities and procurement of agricultural machineries and equipment;
  • PHP800 million in the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Shared Service Facilities (SSF)to support the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs);
  • PHP10 billion for quick recovery, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi Cityunder the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Fund;
  • PHP60 billion for the increase of base pay of military and uniformed personnel;
  • PHP35 billion for the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Housing Program;
  • PHP647 billion for unpaid pension that the government owes surviving spouses of World War II veterans
  • PHP334 million for the acquisition of body cameras of police officersunder the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) budget;
  • PHP100 million for closed circuit television (CCTV);
  • PHP451 million for the purchase of two helicopters;
  • PHP70 million additional funding under the Internal Affairs Service to ensure that they have sufficient funds to conduct their investigation on erring policemen;
  • PHP300 million under the Bureau of Corrections for additional prison facilities;
  • PHP493 billion for the purchase of x-ray machines and a special provision was introduced to expand custom inspection to include bulk inspection and containerized vanunder the budget of the Department of Finance (DOF);
  • PHP783 million for additional funding of existing consular offices and embassies, opening of new consulates, cultural diplomacy programs, training programs, and hazard pay of  employees in hardship posts, among others under Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).