SENATE APPROVES THE MARCOS ADMINISTRATION'S FIRST BUDGET
The Senate has approved its version of the P5.268 trillion national budget for 2023, the first appropriations measure of the Marcos administration.
After marathon hearings at the committee level and interpellations in plenary, the Senate version of the 2023 General Appropriations Bill was approved on third and final reading with a vote of 21-0-0.
Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Senator Sonny Angara described the 2023 budget measure as one that addresses the needs of the people post-pandemic, supports the goal of ensuring food security, reviving education and preparing the country for the impacts of climate change, among other things.
“Sa ilalim ng 2023 budget ay magkakaroon pa din ng ayuda para sa ating mga kababayan pero hindi na ito tulad ng nakaraang ayuda kung saan ay halos lahat ng tao ay nabigyan ng pera. Ngayon pili na sektor na ang bibigyan ng tulong at naka base ito sa bigat ng pangangailangan at naging epekto ng pandemya sa kanila,” Angara said
This includes the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Protective Services to Individuals in Crisis Situations, Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Diisadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) at ang Sustainable Livelihood Program.
Even though there has been a decline in new COVID-19 cases in the country, the 2023 budget will ensure that the government will still be able to respond to the continuing threats of the pandemic and that the health system is strengthened.
The Senate ensured that the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the Department of Health will continue to be supported and that the different DOH-operated hospitals, including the National Children’s Hospital will receive additional funding.
Funding was also provided to pave the way for the establishment of specialty hospitals in the different regions of the country.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will receive a significant amount to support its Benefit Package Improvement under the Universal Health Care Law.
“Ang pondong ito ay pwedeng gamitin sap ag expand o paglaki ng coverage para sa dialysis, mental health outpatient services, z-benefit packages, severe acute malnutrition at iba pang mga outpatient benefits tulad ng libreng konsulta, libreng lab tests at diagnostic services, gamot at mga emergency medical services,” Angara said.
For the members of the public transport sector, fuel vouchers will continue to be provided to the operators and drivers. For the farmers and fisherfolk, they will still receive fuel assistance to help them cope with the rising prices of fuel.
To help our students, particularly the underprivileged, to continue with their education in spite of the financial troubles faced by their families during the pandemic, the 2023 budget measure provides funding for the following programs:
• Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Program;
• Senior High School Voucher Program;
• Education Service Contracting for Junior High School;
• Student Financial Assistance Programs;
• Joint Delivery Voucher for Senior High School Technical-Vocational-Livelihood Track; and
• Private Education Student Financial Assistance
“Para sa ating mga senior citizens at bilang pagpapatupad na din ng bagong batas na RA 11916 kung saan ay tinaasan natin ng 100 percent ang pension ng mga mahihirap na lolo at lola natin, may dagdag na pondo na nakalagay sa unprogrammed appropriations para mabugyan sila ng kaunting suporta para sa kanilang gastusin,” Angara said.
With typhoons and other natural calamities rising in intensity and frequency, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund or the calamity fund was hiked from the P20 billion level that was provided in the past two GAAs to P31 billion for 2023. This includes P1 billion for the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Fund.
Funding was provided for the libreng sakay program that has benefitted a lot of commuters, who have been dealing with the rising price of fuel and its corresponding impacts on other goods and services.
“Marami na ang nakinabang sa libreng sakay at sa panahon na ito ay talagang kahit anong klaseng tulong na maibibigay para maibsan ang hirap na dala ng pagtaas ng presyo ay dapat lang ipagpatuloy,” Angara said.
As part of the continuing efforts to decentralize and devolve several functions of the national government to the local government units (LGUs), the 2023 budget will contain P820.27B, representing the National Tax Allotment that will be distributed among the LGUs.
“With the inputs and support of most, if not all, of our colleagues here in the Senate, we have been able to keep this budget aligned with the objectives and agenda outlined in the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework. We thank the Senate leadership- Senate President Migz Zubiri, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Floor Leader Joel Villanueva, and Minority Leader Koko Pimentel, as well as our Finance Committee vice chairpersons Pia Cayetano, Imee Marcos, Cynthia Villar, Ronald Dela Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, Bong Go, Risa Hontiveros, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Francis Tolentino, Mark Villar, and JV Ejercito,” Angara said.
The bicameral conference committee meetings will commence on Friday, where the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives will work to come up with a reconciled version of the General Appropriations Bills.