Mon, 06 Dec 2021

MANILA - House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez assured on Friday that the introduction of institutional amendments to the 2022 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is aboveboard.

Romualdez said the PHP65.5 billion worth of realignments by the small committee in the proposed PHP5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 is constitutional.

The spending measure was approved on September 30 and is eyed for transmission to the Senate not later than October 27.

Romualdez said the amendments would help address the country's need for more Covid-19 vaccines, as well as help improve the country's capacity to respond to the pandemic and other diseases.

The additional changes, he said, would also fund the financial assistance to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable sectors will have access to government resources.

"The small committee did a painstaking work to ensure that the national budget that we are about to transmit to the Senate will pass the legal and constitutional test," Romualdez said.

The amended version of the 2022 national budget includes more than PHP65 billion worth of institutional amendments that were vetted and approved by the small committee, composed of Romualdez, Appropriations committee chair Eric Yap, Ways and Means committee chair Joey Salceda, Deputy Minority Leader Stella Luz Quimbo, and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.

The amendments include providing the Department of Health additional PHP29.5 billion for procurement of more Covid-19 vaccines, providing medical assistance to indigent patients, and ensuring special risk allowance of public and private health workers; additional PHP10 billion for the Department of Labor and Employment for its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) Program; PHP11 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development's Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) Program and Sustainable Livelihood Program; and additional PHP6 billion for the Department of Transportation's Service Contracting Program, which extends assistance to pandemic-hit drivers and operators while providing free rides.

The insertions will also fast-track the country's digital transformation, with PHP3 billion allocated for the National Broadband Program of the Department of Information and Communications Technology; provide additional PHP5.5 billion to the Department of National Defense for the purchase of five brand new C-130J planes for the Philippine Air Force; and set aside PHP504 million for the operational requirements of four state universities and colleges in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that were unfunded in the National Expenditure Program. (PNA)

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