IT is certainly reassuring to note that next year’s proposed national budget, which is pending
consideration in the powerful bicameral conference committee, is pro-poor and needs-based.
And in scrutinizing every item, Senator Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate committee on
finance, said that Congress wants to ensure that it is funding the needs of the people.
“When we address the basic needs of the people, we also curb crime, violence and illegal
drugs,” said Legarda, a former broadcast journalist and a certified environmentalist.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have already convened the bicameral conference
committee to reconcile the differences in their respective versions of the budget.
Legarda expressed optimism that the shared advocacies of both chambers will prevail amid
Among the highlights of the Senate version of the 2018 P3.767-trillion budget is raising to
P51 billion the allocation for the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary
The lady lawmaker said this would pave the way for free college education in all state
universities and colleges (SUCs), local universities and colleges (LUCs) and state-run technical-
House leaders, on the other hand, feared that budgetary cuts in the P50.7-billion right-of-way
(ROW) acquisitions would jeopardize President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build Plan.”
In fact, the government’s “Build, Build, Build Plan” is designed to usher in a “golden age” of
infrastructure for the country,” according to Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu.
At the beginning of his six-year presidency, the Chief Executive from Davao City promised a
new era for the country and the Filipino people, particularly the poorest of the poor.
And with the help of our senators and congressmen, President Duterte, in the view of many, is
in a position to fulfill his promises before he leaves Malacañang on June 30, 2022.