House passes proposed 2018 budget on final reading

House Bill 6215 hurdled the approval of the Lower House that studied and deliberated on the P3.76 trillion national budget for 2018.

With 223 congressmen voting in the affirmative and nine in the negative, the House of Representatives today passed on third and final reading the 2018 General Appropriations Bill providing the Duterte administration its first full budget of P3.76 trillion for government operations next year.

House Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez, acting as presiding officer during the plenary session, declared approved HB 6215 or the 2018 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

The P3.76-trillion budget includes the restoration of the budget of the CHR, NCIP and the ERC which were initially given a P1,000 budget each by the House for the agencies' failure to properly carry out their mandates.

Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City), who steered the passage of the GAB as chairman of the committee on appropriations, thanked and commended his colleagues for their overwhelming support for the bill, starting from the committee hearings up to the plenary voting.

“I would like to sincerely thank and congratulate the members of the House of Representatives for their active participation in the entire budget process, from the committee hearings all the way to the plenary debates; but most especially, for their overwhelming support in the passage of the General Appropriations Bill on third and final reading,” said Nograles.

Nograles said House members heeded the call to responsibly exercise the chamber’s power of the purse when it was needed most, in finding the funds necessary to implement the Free Higher Education Law.

“By doing so, we have ensured the future of young Filipinos all over the country by granting them free access to college or technical-vocational education and better their chances of finding responsible work to help support their families," said Nograles.

Now that the budget is in the hands of the Senate, Nograles expressed optimism that it will also get the approval of the senators. “We look forward to their approval of the same and to working with them in bicam, if need be,” said Nograles.

The education sector will get the biggest chunk of the budget with a funding of P701.5 billion broken down as follows: Department of Education (DepED), P583.1 billion; State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), P61.6 billion; Commission on Higher Education (CHED), P49.9 billion; and Technical and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), P6.9 billion.

The other agencies with the highest budgetary allocations are: Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P639.8 billion; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), P172.3 billion; Department of Health (DOH) with PHIC, P164.5 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), P145 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P137.1 billion; Department of Transportation (DOTr), P67.9 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA), P54.2 billion; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), P33.5 billion; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P27.9 billion.