THE House of Representatives yesterday approved on third and final reading the proposed 2018 national budget amounting to P3.676 trillion.
Two hundred twenty-two solons voted in favor while only nine rejected House Bill 6215 or the General Appropriation Bill for 2018, the second budget under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
The proposed budget is 12.4 percent higher than this year’s budget of P3.35 million.
The budget will fund President Duterte’s Build Build Build program and other reform and transform agenda.
As usual, the Department of Education (DepEd) received the biggest appropriation of P691 billion, or P41.7-billion more than the 2017 budget.
The bulk of the appropriation will go to the construction of 47,000 classrooms, repair and rehabilitation of 18,000 classrooms, procurement of 84,781 school seats, and creation of 81,100 teaching positions.
The other agencies that got the lion’s share are: Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), P643.3 billion; Department of Interior and Local Govt (DILG), P172.3 billion; Department of Health (DoH), P164.3 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), P145 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P138 billion; Department of Transportation (DoTr), P73.8 billion; Department of Agriculture, P54.2 billion; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), P33.5 million and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P27.9 billion.
The budget also contained the P40 billion fund for the free higher education program of the Duterte administration.
The two-thirds of the fund for free tertiary education was raised from the DepEd or about P30 billion.
The committee also channeled P6 billion from various scholarship programs of state universities and colleges (SUCs) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to the free education program.
The rest was sourced from projects of other agencies like Department of Transportation (DoTR) and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DiCT).
Last week, the House of Representatives restored the proposed budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and two other controversial agencies.
Aside from the CHR, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) had been given P1,000 budget for 2018.
The heads of three offices appealed to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, through the help of Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, for the restoration of their proposed budgets.
But CHR’s original budget of P623 million was slashed to P500 million.