MANILA - The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Monday submitted the government's proposed 2022 budget to the House of Representatives, allocating billions of pesos to the country's pandemic response as COVID-19 infections continued to climb.
The 2022 National Expenditure Program of the Government has the highest amount being sought in the country's history at P5.024 trillion. It is about 22.8 percent of the Philippines' gross domestic product, and higher by 11.5 percent than this year’s budget.
Lawmakers in the lower chamber will start tackling the proposed budget on Thursday.
“We, in the House of Representatives, are all set to carry out our constitutional duty of carefully scrutinizing the P5.024-trillion national budget, which includes an allocation of at least P240.75 billion for COVID-19 response," House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said.
Around P17 billion is allotted for the continuous hiring and deployment of health service professionals through the Human Resources for Health Program.
Some P8.2 billion is for the prevention and control of infectious diseases, including P819 million to buy 758,700 sets of personal protective equipment.
Around P619 million is set aside to scale up the health information technology capabilities of the Integrated Disease Surveillance System and the Philippine COVID-19 Vaccine Information Management System.
The Department of Science and Technology will get P1.3 billion for its research and development efforts.
Of that amount, P983 million is for the establishment of the Virology Science and technology Institute of the Philippines, while P140 million is for the Philippine Genomic Information and Research Hub.
The fund will strengthen the UP Philippine Genome Center in conducting genomic biosurveillance and immune-biosurveillance of COVID-19 variants, the DBM said.
Government is also allocating P5.1 billion for the purchase of 11 million GeneXpert cartridges.
The National Health Insurance Program is allocated P80 billion to subsidize the premium of 13.2 million indigent families and 7.3 million elderly, according to the DBM.
Around P19.6 billion is allocated for the construction and upgrading of health facilities and purchase of medical equipment and ambulances, under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program.
Of this amount, P1.4 billion will be used to cover the requirements for newly established government hospitals, while P106 million will be set aside to ensure the efficient health facility referral system of the One Hospital Command Center.
The submission of the budget comes as the Senate investigates the health department's alleged mismanagement of its P67 billion pandemic funds.
According to the DBM, the bulk of the proposed budget amounting to P1.456 trillion (29 percent) will go to Personnel Services expenditures to cover the hiring of healthcare workers and teaching personnel, the implementation of the third tranche of the Salary Standardization Law V, and the requirements of the 2018 Military and Uniformed Personnel pension arrears, among others.
Capital Outlays are at P939.8 billion, while Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures will reach P777.9 billion next year.
The country’s debt burden amounts to P541.3 billion, which accounts for 10.8 percent of the 2022 NEP. It is lower by 3.4 percent year-on-year.
Support to Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations, composed of National Government subsidies and equity, sums up to P178.0 billion, while Tax Expenditures remain the same with this year’s level at P14.5 billion.
The allocation to Local Government Units (LGUs) will amount to P1.116 trillion. “This includes the P959.0 billion National Tax Allotment share of LGUs, consistent with the Supreme Court ruling on the Mandanas-Garcia case," the DBM said.
Education-related programs, including the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, will also be prioritized, said the DBM.
The Social Services sector will continue to receive the biggest chunk of the proposed budget, at P1.922 trillion, up by 15.2 percent from this year’s.
The Economic Services sector follows, with P1.474 trillion or 29.3 percent of the proposed budget. This is bigger by 11.4 percent compared to the 2021 budget and will largely support flagship programs under the Build Build Build Program.
Meanwhile, the General Public Services sector is allocated with P862.7 billion (17.2%), the Debt Burden with P541.3 billion (10.8%), and the Defense sector with P224.4 billion (4.5%).
By agencies, the education sector covering the Department of Education (DepEd), State Universities and Colleges, and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), gets the highest allocation, with P773.6 billion, higher by P21.9 billion or 2.9 percent compared to its share from the this year's budget.
It is followed by the following:
- Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH): P686.1 billion
- Department of the Interior and Local Government: P250.4 billion
- Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation: P242.0 billion
- Department of National Defense: P222.0 billion
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD): P191.4 billion
- Department of Transportation (DOTr): P151.3 billion
- Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Irrigation Authority (NIA): P103.5 billion
- The Judiciary: P45.0 billion
- Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE): P44.9 billion.
House Appropriations Committee chair ACT CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap said the House intends to approve the proposed budget on final reading before Congress adjourns for the filing of candidacies for the 2022 Elections in the first week of October.
“Ang target namin talaga... matapos siya ng September 30, second and final reading na po. Kasi October 1, naka-session break na po kami, and then November first week na ang balik ng session," Yap said.
"So dapat, one week before the start of November session, dapat nabigyan na namin ng copy ng GAB (General Appropriation Bill) ang Senate para makapag-start na sila mag-review bago pa man mag-session,” he added.
He said they will ask the Executive to certify the bill as urgent, which will allow the House to approve it on 2nd and 3rd reading on the same day.
Yap expects some agencies to undergo intense scrutiny than others during deliberations. ”For short, ‘yung mga involved dun sa mga Bayanihan budget na agencies, actually sila po eh. Tulad ng DSWD, tama kayo, DOH, and siyempre nandiyan na ‘yung ELCAC natin kung saan’yung mga kasamahan natin sa Kongreso, eh talagang tatanungin din kung bakit,” he said.
He said vice-chairmen of the Committee on Appropriations have been tasked to talk to lawmakers to address the parochial concerns of congressmen so these will no longer be taken up during the deliberations.
'Hindi natin afford ma-reenact ang budget natin kasi katulad last year na situation natin sa COVID and then this year, magkaiba na po yung situation natin. So yung pang-2022 na ika-craft nating budget ay hindi na po siya pareho sa 2021, so mas may iba pa tayong needs sa 2022," said Yap.