The House of Representatives on Tuesday ratified the proposed P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017, jumping the gun on the Senate that is set to ratify the budget today.
The House took P8 billion from the budget allotted to the Department of Public Works and Highways and gave it to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
House Appropriations panel Chairman Karlo Alexei Nograles said the move was prompted by the warning of their Senate counterparts that allotting infrastructure budget for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) through the DPWH violates the Organic Act that created the ARMM.
The House contingent in the bicameral panel agreed to accept the Senate’s position to allocate the P8.3 billion originally allotted for development projects in the ARMM, to CHED to prevent an impasse and avoid delays on the budget’s approval. The money will finance the tuition of students in all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
“The worst thing that can happen is if this fund becomes underutilized or underspent. That’s why we have to be vigilant,” Nograles said.
The lawmakers also allotted P770 million for additional cash allowance of teachers; P1.2 billion additional funds for scholarship in SUCS; P317 million for the tuition of medical students; P1 billion for the supplemental feeding of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; P100 million centenarian fund; P2 billion irrigation subsidy; P1 billion for pondo sa pag-asenso at pagbabago; P3 billion for Philhealth subsidy; P1.5 billion for doctors in remote villages and construction of health facilities and an additional fund of P2.8 billion for the Defense department.
Senator Loren Legarda, the chairman of the Senate finance committee, said next year’s budget provides more funding for health, education and agriculture.
In an interview after the bicameral conference committee approved the budget, Legarda said that among the highlights in the budget was the increased allocation for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to provide free college education to deserving students who will enroll in state colleges and universities (SUCs).
Philippine National Police (PNP) got P5.63 billion for the procurement of firearms and cars and the building of new stations.