MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.
With 22 senators voting yes, the chamber approved House Bill No. 4228, a week after it wrapped up plenary debates following extended session hours.
The proposal is 12 percent higher than the current year's budget.
Senate Finance Committee chair Sen. Sonny Angara presented the proposed national budget along with amendments senators entered during the previous session.
Among the amendments the Senate adopted were:
- additional P6 billion for the Department of Education's Last Mile Schools program, which aims to reach remote and conflict-stricken areas
- a P1.158 billion hike in funding for state universities and colleges
- additional P644 million for the Philippine General Hospital
- added funds of P3.173 billion to increase salaries of state nurses
- P920 million added to allocations for the Philippine Army for the activation of the 1st Infantry Division
- P150 million in added funds for the Veterans Memorial Medical Center to purchase medicine and hire more workers
- a P1.529-billion increase in the Philippine National Police budget
- P32 billion for the implementation of the 5th tranche of the Salary Standardization Law covering public school teachers and other government employees
Angara, in his sponsorship speech, did not indicate what agencies suffered budget reductions and how much.
Upon approval of the budget bill on third and final reading, the Senate appointed those who would represent the chamber in the upcoming bicameral conference committee for the 2020 budget.
Angara, and his colleagues Senators Panfilo Lacson, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, Christopher “Bong” Go, Richard Gordon, Imee Marcos, Joel Villanueva, Ralph Recto, Nancy Binay and Grace Poe will represent the chamber.
The Senate Minority, meanwhile, will be represented by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros.
Malacañang on Wednesday said it hopes that discussions on the budget would conclude without "undue delay" as it assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte would properly review the expenditure bill.
"The public is assured that the President will carefully scrutinize whatever appropriations bill that will be transmitted to his office by Congress to ensure that the same would be in accordance with the imperatives of the Constitution and responsive to the needs of the Filipino people before it becomes a law," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Passage of the current year's budget was delayed over controversies surrounding alleged insertions, with the country operating under a reenacted 2018 budget for several months. The President signed the 2019 budget in April with vetoed provisions.
- with reports from Sherrie Ann Torres and Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News