PCOO

THE House of Representatives approved on Wednesday an additional P77.5 billion for the 2023 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), with augmented allocations for health, education, transportation and other social services.

The extra allocations were added during the period of amendments prior to the ratification of the 2023 GAB, Speaker Martin G. Romualdez said in a statement.

Agencies receiving additional funding were the Department of Health at P20.25 billion, the Philippine General Hospital P500 million, the Department of Education’s classroom building program P10 billion and its special education programs P581 million.

Also added was P10 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways’ water system projects in underserved barangays.

Another P12.5 billion was added to the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Assistance programs, with P5 billion going to the Individuals in Crisis Situations program, P5 billion to the upgraded senior citizen pension and P2.5 billion to the sustainable livelihood program.

Department of Transportation programs to address the rising cost of fuel, such as the fuel subsidy program, Libreng Sakay and bike lane construction were also granted an additional P5.5 billion.

A total of P5 billion was added to the budget for training and scholarship programs of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, P5 billion to the Commission on Higher Education’s Tulong Dunong Program, and P5 billion to the livelihood and emergency employment programs of the Department of Labor and Employment.

The national broadband project of the Department of Information and Communications Technology was given an additional P1.5 billion, while the Commission on Elections’ new headquarters project got P500 million.

Some P300 million was granted to the Philippine National Police for training while P250 million went to the Department of Trade and Industry to support the creative industries as mandated by Republic Act 11904.

The Energy Regulatory Commission got an additional P150 million, the Office of the Solicitor General P147 million and the National Electrification Administration P50 million.

 “I’m pleased that the House-approved version of the General Appropriations Bill responds to the most urgent needs of Filipinos,” Mr. Romualdez added. “We need to ensure that social services are sufficient for the greater good of our countrymen, especially those in dire need of basic social services to survive.”

Party-list Representative Elizaldy S. Co, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, said that the additional allocations were sourced from programs that can be implemented in later years. — Kyanna Angela Bulan