MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco assured Friday the prompt transmittal to the Senate of the 2022 national budget proposal passed by the House of Representatives to ensure funds would be ready for the country’s COVID-19 response next year.
According to Velasco, they are eyeing to send a printed copy of the House-approved P5.024-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to the Senate by October 27 to give senators ample time to discuss and examine the 2022 expenditure plan of the government, and reconcile any possible differences that their version may have with the lower chamber’s report.
“We are very proud of this budget and what it will do to help our country recover from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe the House delivered a budget that directly responds to the greatest needs of the Filipino people amid this unprecedented global health crisis,” the House’s top leader said in a statement.
He then thanked the House committee on appropriations for helping put together a budget that would cater to the country’s needs especially in this time of the pandemic.
The House’s version of the 2022 budget included, among others, institutional amendments aimed to strengthen the government’s COVID-19 response while upgrading the capabilities of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
Also, the House included in the proposed government spending plan the additional P29.5 billion for the Department of Health, principally to support further procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, provide medical assistance to indigent patients, and fund allowances of health workers at risk of contracting COVID-19.
On the other hand, P5.5 billion would be given to the PAF for the procurement of new C-130 cargo planes.
“This will allow the Air Force to effectively fulfill its mandate of protecting the nation’s airspace, and to continue responding to disasters and transporting medical equipment and supplies during this pandemic,” Velasco stressed.
Other items in the House-approved 2022 GAB are:
- P504 million for the funding of state universities and colleges in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)
- P10 billion for the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) Program
- P11 Billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation or AICS Program and Sustainable Livelihood Program
- P6 billion for the Department of Transportation’s service contracting program
- P3 billion for the National Broadband Program
“Our intention in passing this budget is two-fold: addressing the pandemic while paving the way towards revitalizing our economy,” Velasco said.
“We made sure that while there is sufficient funding for our health sector in battling the pandemic, there is also enough funding for other agencies to help create jobs, pump prime the economy, and move the country forward,” he added.
If all things go according to plan, the budget may be ready by December, and President Rodrigo Duterte may sign it within that month — avoiding a reenacted budget.
“It is important to us that the national budget is passed on time to enable the government to implement programs and projects in a timely manner,” Velasco explained.
“We will work with our Senate counterparts to ensure that the key programs critical to our economic recovery and to our continuing battle against COVID-19 get priority funding in 2022. Together, we can fight and overcome this pandemic,” he also said.
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