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Senate Approves 2019 National Budget on Third Reading

January 21, 2019

The Senate today unanimously passed on third and final reading the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that the Senate is now ready to go to a bicameral meeting and will be waiting advice from the House of Representatives for a proposed schedule to reconcile the differences in their respective versions of the 2019 national budget.

Legarda said that the 2019 national budget will continue to prioritize education, healthcare, livelihood and employment, and social services.

Among the Senate’s amendments include, additional allocation for the Department of Education (DepEd) to increase Quick Response Fund (QRF), School-based Feeding Program, Quality Teacher and Development Program, Computerization Program and Textbooks and Other Instructional Materials. It also provided P800 Million for the allowance of teachers to be given during the World Teachers’ Day.

For healthcare, included in the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) is the restoration of P16.796 Billion for Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) and provision of P4.797 Billion of the P7 Billion requirement for Human Resource for Health Development, which was partially provided in the GAB in the amount of P2.6 Billion.

Allocation for Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients (MAIP) is also provided. The increase in the allocation of the four specialty hospitals—Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, and National Kidney and Transplant Institute—is for the MAIP.

Under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Senate provided additional funding for Protective Services and for the implementation of the enhanced program for children, families, indigenous peoples, and other individual in difficult situation.

For support to livelihood and employment, there is increased funding under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Increase in the budget of DOLE will be used for emergency repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), worker protection and welfare program, employment facilitation program and government internship program.

The Senate provided additional fund for DTI Negosyo Centers and Shared Service Facilities (SSF). It also increased the allocation for TESDA’s Special Training for Employment Program and Training for Work Scholarship Program.

Under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Senate provided for the construction of building for Emergency 911 Command Center and also augmented the Philippine National Police’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) to improve its delivery of services. It also allocated an additional funding to provide the per capita cost of additional policemen and for the procurement of a brand new fixed wing airplane.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) received additional funding for the creation of a special task force, as well as victims assistance program for OFWs and also for the programs geared toward child protection. The Senate also provided funding for the construction of prison facilities in 5 regions to decongest the existing prison facilities and to bring the prisoners near their families.

Under the Department of Defense (DND) budget, an additional amount of P48.766 Million was provided for its Task Force and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) for the rebel/insurgent returnees. The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office will have additional funding for veterans hospitalization and additional capital outlays and medical care program.

“The 2019 national budget supports the infrastructure program of the government while also taking care of the human capital so that economic growth addresses the needs of the people, especially the poorest sector. It will also continue to fund programs to build our resilience to natural hazards and climate change and promote environmental integrity,” said Legarda.

“We hope to be able to immediately reconcile the differences between the House and Senate version so that we may approve the budget within the remaining session days that we have. This is very important because the passage of our national budget every year comes with the hope of achieving real lasting growth for Filipinos, especially the poor and the most vulnerable,” Legarda concluded.