Speaker Martin Romualdez on Wednesday said the House of Representatives realigned P77.5-billion in its approved version of the 2023 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to augment the budget for health, education, transportation and other critical social services.
Romualdez said during the period of amendments, the Lower House augmented the budget of frontline agencies tasked to address the current economic, health, energy, and environmental crises that burden millions of Filipinos. These include:
• P20.25-billion for various programs of the Department of Health such as: Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients (P13B); allowances for healthcare and non-healthcare workers and frontliners (P5-billion); additional funding for the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute and Philippine Children’s Medical Center Health (P500-million each); 10 dialysis assistance centers throughout the Philippines (P270-million or P27-million each); Cancer Assistance Program (P250-million);
• P500-million for UP-PGH;
• P10-billion for the Department of Education’s school building/classroom construction (P10-billion) and special education programs (P581-million);
• P10-billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways to construct water systems in underserved upland barangays;
P12.5-billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (P5-billion); P5-billion to upgrade senior citizens’ pension through the National Commission of Senior Citizens; and Sustainable Livelihood Program (P2.5-billion);
• P5.5-billion for Department of Transportation programs to address the rising cost of fuel like the fuel subsidy program, Libreng Sakay and bike lane construction;
• P5-billion for the training and scholarship programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority;
• P5-billion for the Commission on Higher Education’s Tulong Dunong Program;
• P5-billion for the livelihood and emergency employment programs of the Department of Labor and Employment;
• P1.5-billion for the national broadband project of the Department of Information and Communications Technology;
• P500-million for the Commission on Elections new building;
• P300-million for the Philippine National Police to train law enforcement officers to be conducted by the Department of Justice and National Prosecution Service;
• P250-million for the Department of Trade and Industry to assist the creative industry pursuant to Republic Act 11904;
• P150-million for the Energy Regulatory Commission;
• P147-million for the Office of the Solicitor General;
• P50-million for the National Electrification Administration’s barangay and sitio electrification program
Romualdez lauded the House of Representatives—especially appropriations committee chairman Rep. Zaldy Co and senior vice chair Rep. Stella Quimbo—for the budget’s swift passage on third reading and for acting expeditiously yet cautiously on the proposed amendments.
“I’m pleased that the House-approved version of the General Appropriations Bill responds to the most urgent needs of Filipinos. We need to ensure that social services are sufficient for the greater good of our countrymen, especially those in dire need of basic social services to survive,” he said.
While the fiscal space is limited, Co said his committee endeavored to free up appropriations from agencies whose funds are unlikely to be fully utilized within 2023, based on historical performance or specific circumstances of their spending program.
“The idea is to allocate more budget for pro-people programs and projects without the need of imposing new taxes. One thing is sure: all major infrastructure projects will proceed as scheduled based on a timetable that is implementable for 2023,” Co said.