PRESIDENT Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has certified as an urgent measure the 2018 P3.767 trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) which was scheduled to be approved on second reading Tuesday night.
The Chief Executive underscored the importance of expeditious passage of the national budget or House Bill (HB) No. 6215 to ensure the implementation of the pro-poor programs of the government next year such as education and ambitious infrastructure projects of the government.
“In order to address the need to maintain continuous government operations following the end of the current fiscal year, to expedite the funding of various programs projects and activities for FY (fiscal Year) 2018, and to ensure budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its constitutional mandate,” said Duterte in his letter to Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.
House Majority Floor Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas, a stalwart of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban), said the third and final reading approval will be made one or two weeks after the expected second reading passage Tuesday night.
“We will only approve it on second reading tonight (Tuesday) and on third reading when it will already be printed with all the amendments, which will take a week or two,” said Fariñas, who chairs the powerful House committee on rules.
As of press time yesterday, the House of Representatives was still deliberating the national budget for second reading approval despite Malacañang’s decision suspending government work in Metro Manila, Region III, and Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon region or Calabarzon due to two weather disturbances -- Typhoon “Lannie” and Tropical Depression “Maring.”
The Senate is currently deliberating the GAB in the committee level.
The education sector will continue to receive the biggest appropriation of P691 billion -- P41.7 billion more than the 2017 budget.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) have hefty budgets of P643.3 billion and P73.8 billion, respectively.
As for budget allocation according to sector, social services will remain the recipient of the biggest budget, amounting to P1.45 trillion, or 38.5 percent of the proposed budget.
The economic services sector comes second with P1.15 trillion, 30.6 percent of the proposed budget. The budget for economic services in 2018 gets a generous increase of 25% from the 2017 amount of P922 billion.
The other agencies with the highest budgetary allocations are: Department of Interior and Local Government (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 Agriculture (DA), P54.2 billion; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), P33.5 billion; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P27.9 billion.
President Duterte said the 2018 budget will focus on public infrastructure listed under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” campaign.