Palace welcomes Senate passage of 2020 budget

Malacañang on Wednesday hailed Senate’s unanimous passage of the proposed PHP4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 on third and final reading.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the proposed 2020 budget is needed to fund programs and projects that will accelerate investments in public infrastructure, improve anti-poverty measures, and intensify employment generation.

He was hopeful that with this development, the bicameral conference committee would be able to reconcile disagreeing provisions without undue delay.

“The Executive Branch hopes that the Bicameral Conference Committee of the Legislature would be able to arrive at a considered decision in reconciling the conflicting provisions found in the two versions of its respective houses without prolonged partisan discussion and undue delay,” Panelo said in a statement.


Panelo also assured the public that once the budget bill reaches President Rodrigo Duterte, he would “carefully” scrutinize it to ensure it would be in accordance with the Constitution and responsive to the needs of the Filipino.

Education, health, peace and order

The Senate approved House Bill 4228 after Senator Juan Edgardo Angara presented the highlights of the chamber’s amendments to the General Appropriations Bill.

Amendments were focused mostly on the areas of education, health and nutrition, social welfare, labor, agriculture, food security, national security, justice, and peace and order.

For education, the Senate augmented the budget of the Department of Education totaling PHP1.1 billion.

This includes increases in the budget for its Education Service Contracting program to fund the proposed increase in the Teachers Salary Subsidy (TSS) worth PHP273.79 million.

State universities and colleges also got an additional PHP1.158 billion for their research programs, sports- and culture-related activities, and new buildings and facilities.

The budget of the Department of Health was also raised by PHP11.09 billion to support the agency’s vaccination drive, retain the jobs of health workers, augment funding for equipment of various hospitals and continue the department’s Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients Program.

An additional PHP3.173 billion has also been set aside under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund to upgrade the salaries of nurses in accordance with the Supreme Court decision.

PhilHealth got an additional PHP9 billion for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law.

The Senate also increased the budget of the Philippine National Police by PHP1.529 billion while the Department of National Defense (DND) was given an additional PHP131.874 million for the implementation of Task Force Balik Loob and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for rebel returnees.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Army will be given PHP920 million for the deployment of one Infantry Division to address the continuing threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi areas.

The House of Representatives approved the 2020 budget bill on third and final reading on September 20.

The two chambers of the Congress will then convene in a bicameral conference committee to reconcile their versions of the budget bill early December, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

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