Senate Ratifies 2019 National Budget

February 8, 2019

Following the signing of the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the Senate ratified the said report during its session today, Friday.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, led the Senate conferees in meeting their counterparts from the House of Representatives, led by Committee on Appropriations Chair Congressman Rolando Andaya Jr., for the signing of the bicam report at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

“The 2019 national budget is a product of hard work and discernment. The amendments of the Senators are institutional amendments. These are agency requests that have gone through the process and have been thoroughly studied, vetted and deemed important, but funding for such were not considered in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) and the General Appropriations Bill (GAB),” said Legarda.

During the Senate’s session, Legarda presented the amendments considered in the bicam report.

“These infrastructure projects were requested by agencies and included in their Tier 2 proposal to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and subject of letter requests and program of works (POW). The 2019 budget continues to support the Build, Build, Build program of the Administration,” said Legarda.

The institutional amendments that were considered in the bicam report include the restoration of P15 Billion for Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) and a provision of P4.797 Billion for Human Resource for Health Development. We have increased the allocation for medical assistance for indigent patients, as well as provided funds for medicines for cancer patients.

Under the Department of Education (DepEd), additional P800 million was provided for the allowance of teachers to be given during World Teachers’ Day. Additional budget was also given for Quality Teacher and Development Program, Computerization Program.

To support the educational needs of our students, we have given additional allocation for school buildings and textbooks. Funding of P1 billion has likewise been provided to effectively implement RA 11037, an Act which Institutionalizes a National Feeding Program in Schools.

Additional funding for capital outlay has been given for selected SUCs, in the amount of P2.421 billion.  We have provided a budget for the needs of the University of the Philippines, the country’s premier state university, as well as for the salary adjustment of teachers in state universities and colleges (SUCs) as provided for under the NBC 461.

We ensured enough funding for the continuation of social services programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), cash for work, and Pangkabuhayan Program of the DOLE. There is also funding for the purchase of medicines for veterans and funding for Bahay Pag-asa Centers, to address the needs of the children in conflict with the law.

For our overseas Filipino workers, augmentation in the DOJ’s budget is for the creation of a special task force and victims’ assistance program. Additional budget has been likewise provided under the Department of Labor and Employment budget, to be used for emergency repatriation of our OFWs, worker protection and welfare program, employment facilitation program. The Commission on Elections will also receive an allocation for overseas Filipinos absentee voting and postage fees.

To support the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), there is additional funding in the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Shared Service Facilities (SSF) and Negosyo Centers, which intends to increase the productivity of MSMEs by giving them access to efficient technologies, skills, knowledge, and systems.

To improve the delivery of social services, there is a budget allocation for the establishment of public markets nationwide, under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been increased to provide for the grants-in-aid for Disaster Preparedness, PhilMicrosat, Defense and Human Security, S&T Creative Industry and Tourism and Nutrigenomics.

In addition, the Judiciary will receive additional funds for the  following, namely, the construction of the Cagayan de Oro Complex and halls of justice under the Supreme Court; construction of Sandiganbayan II building for the Sandiganbayan; initial funding for the construction of the Court of Appeals building and additional funding for personnel services, MOOE and CO for the entire Judiciary.

The Office of the Ombudsman will be given additional funds for its restructuring requirements, which will include adjustments in PS, MOOE and CO.

For our correctional facilities, the amount of 1 billion has been provided under the budget of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). This is for the construction, repair, rehabilitation of prison facilities in Palawan, Davao, Leyte, Mandaluyong (NCR) and Zamboanga, so as to decongest the existing prison facilities.

The increase in the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) is for the ICT industry and countryside development, national broadband and cybersecurity and augmentation for the operating requirements of National Telecommunications Commission.

We provided funds to the Philippine National Police (PNP), under the DILG, for a 911 Command Center, which shall serve as a coordinating center for our citizens that are in need of assistance. We also increased the MOOE of the PNP to increase the police’s per capita allowance. Motor Vehicles and Firefighting Equipment are also provided for under the 2019 budget.

Under the Department of National Defense (DND), funding has been allocated for the purchase of additional hardware to strengthen national security and the needs of our military, as well as for the creation of an infantry division for Mindanao. We also provided funding for the increase in allowance and hiring of additional troops of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) budget received an additional funding for existing consular offices and embassies, for the opening of new consulates and embassies, training programs, among others.

Funding for arts and culture is likewise central under the 2019 budget. We have increased the funding of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for its various cultural activities. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has additional budget for the restoration/ conservation of historical sites and memorials on historical events and personages, including the commemoration of the 500thanniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage to the Philippines.

The 2019 budget has also reflected realignments within the Unprogrammed Fund to provide for the following: a) P10 billion for Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund; b) P10 Billion for the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Fund; c) P18 billion for the Implementation of the Universal Health Care; and; d) P30 Billion for the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Finally, several special provisions have been introduced in the 2019 budget. These include the following:

Implementation of Environmental Laws: Local Government Units shall be responsible for the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, including, but not limited to, the Philippine Clean Air Act, Philippine Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Ban on single-use plastics.

Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. The DILG shall ensure the creation of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in all LGUs.

Establishment of Multihazard Impact-based Forecasting and Early Warning Systems.

Pool of Registered Guidance Counselors, which shall be provided by the Department of Education to provide and monitor a mental health policy for students.

Deficiencies in the Funds for Devolved Functions to LGUs shall be automatically appropriated as part of the IRA.

“These are just some of the programs that we have provided for under the 2019 budget. This year’s budget continues to put in its core what is essential for sustainable development: the basic needs of our people and our nation,” Legarda concluded.