MANILA, Philippines – The Senate approved on Thursday, November 26, the proposed P3-trillion ($63.66-billion) national budget for 2016.
Out of the 15 senators present during the 3rd and final reading of the proposed appropriation bill, 14 voted in favor of it. Only one senator, Aquilino Pimentel III, voted against the proposal.
The approved Senate budget bill now goes to the bicameral conference committee, where it will be reconciled with the version of the House of Representatives.
The House approved their version of the proposed budget on October 9, practically without touching the version that Malacañang submitted in July.
As in the House version, the Department of Education (DepEd) still received the largest allocation in the Senate bill – P 411.89 billion ($8.74 billion), which is a 28% or P90-billion jump from P321 billion ($6.81 billion) in 2015.
Senator Loren Legarda said the increase in the deparment’s budget is aimed to support “the implementation of the senior high school curriculum under the K-12 program” next year.
As for the Department of National Defense (DND), Senate approved a P116.2-billion ($2.47-billion) budget for the department. This allocation is higher than the P115.8-billion ($2.46-billion) budget approved by the House of Representatives for the defense department.
The Senate version of the DND budget includes an additional P250 million ($5.31 million) for its quick response funds (QRF), and P150 million ($3.18 million) allocation for the Philippine Army to enhance the army’s intelligence funds and fund new machinery, equipment, and construction of buildings and other structures.
Senate President Franklin Drilon said that lawmakers from both houses of Congress will devote their time next week for the bicameral conference committee meetings on the 2016 budget.
He also expressed confidence that the budget will be signed by President Benigno Aquino III before the year ends.
“We expect to submit the budget to the President by December 14. That’s our target date so that the President will have a week to 10 days to review the budget and see whether he will exercise his line-item veto as he would traditionally,” Drilon said.
The proposed 2016 budget represents a 15.2% increase from this year’s budget of P2.6 trillion. – Rappler.com