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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

01 October 2021 01:00:58 AM

Beating its self-imposed deadline, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Thursday night the proposed P5.024-trillion 2022 national budget which is focused on getting the Philippines back on the road towards full recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“This fiscally responsible budget offers a blueprint to help the country recover fully and effectively from the devastating effects of the pandemic and chart a better path forward,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said after the House, in a vote of 238-6-0, passed the last full-year budget to be enacted under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

The 2022 budget proposal is contained in House Bill No. 10153 entitled “An Act Appropriating Funds for the Operation of the Government of the Philippines from January 1 to December 31, 2022.”

The House leadership had earlier set September 30 as the target date for the passage of the all-important budget measure, being the last session day before the chamber adjourned for a month-long break in time for the October filing of certificates of candidacy for local and national bets for the May 2022 elections.

Velasco said it is highly important that the 2022 General Appropriations Act is passed on time to avoid a re-enacted spending program and pave the way for an uninterrupted government operations as the nation continues to battle COVID-19.

“The swift and smooth passage of the proposed 2022 national budget shows our collective commitment and resolve to help our kababayans and economy build back better and hasten economic recovery through the effective delivery of government services,” Velasco said in his adjournment speech.

The House approval came just more than one month after President Duterte—through the Department of Budget and Management—submitted to Congress the National Expenditure Program (NEP), which assisted lawmakers in the review and deliberation of the proposed national budget for next year.

Soon after receiving the NEP on August 23, the House immediately immersed in the serious work of reviewing and scrutinizing the budget of all government agencies.

During the entire process, Velasco proudly said that the chamber has not only “committed and delivered a budget responsive to the needs of our people,” but also initiated reforms to ensure its timely passage.

“When all is said and done, we hope that our people can look back at this period and see that we have done our duties despite the present crisis. We pushed for the budget, but always with respect to the concerns of the Minority,” Velasco said.

Velasco expressed his gratitude to House members and employees for ensuring that the legislative chamber was able to successfully carry out with reasonable dispatch its constitutional mandate to scrutinize and approve the annual budget.

The House chief specifically thanked the Deputy Speakers, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, Chair Eric Yap and vice chairs of the Committee on Appropriations, the Secretariat, congressional staff, security personnel and admin support staff, and frontliners of the House Medical Service for their commitment and hard work.

“In the end, we have collectively moved to make a difference for our country. Ito ang budget ng bayan, para sa bayan,” Velasco said.

Meanwhile, Velasco expressed his appreciation to President Duterte for certifying the 2022 General Appropriations Bill as urgent, thus allowing the House to pass the measure on third reading immediately after its second reading approval.

“The President’s certification allowed us to fulfill our commitment to pass the measure before we go on a month-long break so there will be sufficient time to enact the national budget before the year ends,” he said.

The proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for next year is equivalent to 22.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and is higher by 11.5 percent than the current 2021 budget.

By sector, social services sector receives the biggest chunk of the 2022 budget with P1.922 trillion, which will fund health-related services such as continued implementation of the Universal Health Care Act, purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, procurement of personal protective equipment, among others. Education-related programs, including the implementation of the Universal Access to Tertiary Education, is also prioritized.

Next is the economic services sector, which gets P1.474 trillion largely to support flagship programs under the government’s flagship “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

The general public services sector is allocated with P862.7 billion, debt burden with P541.3 billion, and defense sector with P224.4 billion.

Among the departments and agencies, the education sector covering the Department of Education, State Universities and Colleges and the Commission on Higher Education, receives the highest allocation with P773.6 billion.

This is followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways with P686.1 billion; Department of the Interior and Local Government, P250.4 billion; Department of Health and Philippine Health Insurance Corp., P242 billion; Department of National Defense, P222 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development, P191.4 billion; Department of Transportation, P151.3 billion; Department of Agriculture and National Irrigation Authority, P103.5 billion; the Judiciary, P45 billion; and Department of Labor and Employment, P44.9 billion.