MANILA— The House of Representatives has finalized amendments in the P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022, which includes the allotment of P20 billion for the purchase of more COVID-19 vaccines.
The budget for COVID-19 jabs was among the proposed amendments finalized and approved by the small committee created by the House for consideration.
In the original budget proposal, there was also some P45.4 billion in unprogrammed funds for COVID-19 booster shots. Unprogrammed funds refer to items that will only be funded if the government is able to raise funds for them.
The following is the summary of all of amendments approved by the small committee:
Department of Health (DOH)
- Procurement of vaccines (vaccines and COVID-19 booster shots) - P 20 billion
- Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (MAIP)- 5 billion
- Special Risk Allowance (SRA) for qualified public and private health workers - P4.5 billion
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
- Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) prioritizing indigent families, the informal sector families and those under the next lower poverty level per DSWD - P10 billion
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
- Assistance to individuals in crisis situation (AICS) (food assistance, food packs, transportation, medical aid, burial assistance, assistance to students, cash/food for work and other assistance to individuals, sectors, communities in especially difficult circumstances) - P10 billion
- Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) to enable each qualified household beneficiaries to enroll in 2 different tracks (1) Micro-Enterprise Development; and (2) Employment Facilitation through technical and vocational skills training - P1 billion
Department of Transportation (DOTr)
- Service Contracting Program (SCP) under LTFRB to extend assistance to transport drivers and operators and provide free rides to the commuting public - P6 billion
- State Universities and Colleges (SUCs): for the operational requirement of 4 SUCs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) (Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College, Cotabato State University, Sulu State College, and Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural College) - P504 billion
Department of Information and Communications (DICT)
- National broadband: to set-up a well-established network to provide faster, efficient, and equitable broadband connectivity to the country, especially for the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas - P3 billion
Department of National Defense
- Down payment for the acquisition of 5 Units of C-130 J for Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief operations of the Philippine Air Force - P5.5 billion
There were no details immediately available as to where funds for these changes were sourced.
Since the chamber could not increase the budget ceiling set by the executive at P5.024 trillion, this means that lawmakers realigned funds from other items for the amendments.
THE 2022 BUDGET
On Sept. 30, the House approved the proposed P5.024 trillion 2022 national budget in time for the congressional adjournment for the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2022 national and local elections.
No amendments were made by the plenary, but the House created a small committee that will accept and process individual proposals from lawmakers that will be included in the final version of the bill to be submitted to the Senate.
As of that time, education remained the sector with the biggest allocation at P773.6 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways at P686.1 billion.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government is third at P250.4 billion.
Even if the pandemic persisted, the Department of Health (DOH) only got P242 billion, a slight increase from P210.2 billion in the current year.
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense got the 5th highest allocation with P222 billion, followed by the DSWD, which got P151.3 billion.
The 2022 budget is 11.5 percent higher than the budget this year.
It has P252.4 billion for health spending which includes provision for COVID-19 GeneXpert cartridges at P5.1 billion. The machines, which currently can only screen tuberculosis, could yield COVID-19 test results in just 45 minutes to an hour, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said.
The health spending plan also includes the following:
- Purchase of personal protective equipment - P819 million
- Establishment of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines - P983 million
- The Philippine Genomic Information and Resource Hub -P140 million
- National health insurance program for PhilHealth - P80 billion
- Health facilities enhancement program - P19.6 billion
- Human resources for health program - P17 billion
- Medical assistance to indigent patients - P17 billion
The measure will be submitted to the Senate, whose members now have time to study the bill ahead of the resumption of sessions in October and to approve the budget before yearend, preventing a reenacted budget.