The House of Representatives has passed on its third and final reading the proposed PHP 4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.
With 267 affirmative votes and six negative votes, House Bill No. 7727 or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) that contains provisions to address the impact of COVID-19 in the country has been approved by the lower chamber on Friday, October 16.
The bill was approved on the last day of the special session called by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte between October 13-16 amid the Speakership fiasco that would’ve delayed its passage. It was also passed just minutes after its second-reading approval after Duterte certified the measure as urgent.
Following the passage, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said next year’s budget “requires us to strike a balance in providing a fiscal stimulus for economic recovery while containing the spread and mitigating the effects of COVID-19.”
In a statement, House Ways and Means panel Chairman Joey Salceda said the 2021 national budget has allocated 19.8% or at least PHP 893 billion for the country’s COVID-19 response. Of the PHP 893 billion, PHP 2.5 billion were allocated for the procurement of anti-COVID-19 vaccine.
Among the government agencies, the Department of Education (DepEd) got the highest allocation at PHP 754.4 billion – higher than its 2020 budget of PHP 650.2 billion. This includes the State Universities and Colleges, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
It is followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with PHP 667.3 billion; the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which has PHP 246.1 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), with PHP 209.1 billion; and Department of Health (DOH), which has PHP 203.1 billion including the budget for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
Meanwhile, the lower chamber also allocated a PHP 171.2 billion budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development for 2021; a PHP 143.6 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOTr); PHP 66.4 billion for the Department of Agriculture (DA); PHP 43.5 billion for the Judiciary; and PHP 27.5 billion for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
A small committee was also formed in ordr to consolidate and finalize all proposed amendments for the proposed 2021 budget. Proposed amendments shall be submitted until Oct. 19. The committee members include:
- Majority Leader Martin Romualdez
- House appropriations chair Eric Yap (ACT CIS Party-list)
- Rizal 1st District Rep. Jack Duavit
- Bataan 2nd District Rep. Jose Enrique Garcia
- Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda
- Batangas 1st District Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain
- BH Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera
- AAMBIS-OWA Partyl-ist Rep. Sharon Garin
- Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Doy Leachon
- Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo
- Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma
- Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Marie Sarmiento
- Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo
- Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman