MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has approved on final reading the proposed Php5-trillion 2022 national budget.
Twenty-two senators voted in favor of House Bill 10153 or the General Appropriations Bill containing the proposed 2022 national budget.
On Wednesday’s session, Senate Finance Committee Chairperson Sonny Angara read out before the plenary some of the amendments made in the budget.
These include the line item for the special risk allowance and benefits of healthcare workers amounting to over Php50-billion.
Adjustments were also made for the COVID-19 human resource for health emergency hiring, operations for national reference laboratories such as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the hiring and training of 25,000 contact tracers.
“Our health sector will continue to receive a significant portion of the national budget with the Department of Health receiving over Php230-billion, much higher than the Php182-billion it was appropriated under the GAB passed by the House,” Angara said.
Meanwhile, part of the budget cuts made under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) funds was restored, giving it a Php10.8-billion budget.
The earlier version of the budget in the Senate Finance Committee report reduced the Php28-billion proposed fund for the NTF-ELCAC to Php4-billion but several senators appealed for the restoration of the budget.
Also included in the social programs are the Social Amelioration Program with Php5-billion fund; social pension for indigent senior citizens with over Php25-billion; assistance to individuals in crisis situations, and the integrated livelihood program of the Labor Department.
Angara added that they included significant funding for free COVID-19 testing for jobseekers, noting that many employers are hesitant to accept new job applicants who are unable to show proof that they are negative for COVID-19.
The Senate and the House of Representatives will now proceed with the Bicameral Conference Committee to reconcile conflicting provisions of both versions of the two chambers.
The Senate contingent will be led by Angara with members, namely: Senators Juan Miguel ‘Migz’ Zubiri, Cynthia Villar, Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa, Pia Cayetano, Sherwin Gatchalian, Christopher Bong Go, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Imee Marcos, Joel Villanueva, Grace Poe, and Nancy Binay.
The Senate plans to submit the final version of the proposed national budget to President Rodrigo Duterte before December 25. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)