MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives approved the proposed P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017 on Wednesday, October 19, the last day of sessions before the Lower House takes a break.
Voting 243-5-1 on 3rd and final reading, congressmen gave the nod to House Bill 3408 or the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017.
The proposed 2017 budget, which was designed to complement President Rodrigo Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda, is 11.6% higher than the 2016 budget. It represents 21% of the projected gross domestic product next year.
Agriculture, education as well as peace and order are among the budget priorities of the Duterte administration. The Office of the President, and the education and public works departments are the top budget gainers. (READ: What’s in the proposed 2017 national budget?)
Lawmakers barely touched the version of the proposed 2017 budget submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in August.
But House committee on appropriations chairperson Karlo Nograles said they have decided to restore the budget cuts made against state colleges and universities (SUCs) and government hospitals nationwide.
“We are one in the belief that these SUCs and our government hospitals must be given utmost priority at all times. Quality education and quality health care are key public services that have a direct impact on our nation’s future,” Nograles said
Under the original version submitted by the DBM, the proposed 2017 maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOEs) of 65 government hospitals and 34 SUCs were significantly lower compared to their MOOEs this year.
The 17th Congress goes on a two-week break starting October 22. The Senate will start deliberating on the budget bill on November 7.
No more budget cuts
Restoring the budget for government hospitals and SUCs were then strongly lobbied by Makabayan bloc lawmakers ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, and Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago together with Taguig City Representative Pia Cayetano during the budget hearings and plenary deliberations in the past two months.
According to Nograles, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas moved to restore the budget cuts, with the support of Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.
A total of P1.538 billion that was previously slashed from the MOOE of government hospitals has been restored back to the Department of Health’s budget.
As for SUCs, the appropriations panel increased the budget of the University of the Philippines-Manila by P85 million for the modernization of the College of Dentistry’s laboratories, the repair and rehabilitation of the the College of Nursing building, and the purchase of generators.
The MOOEs of the following SUCs were also restored:
- Philippine Normal University – P1.431 million
- Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College – P2.229 million
- Pangasinan State University – P2.56 million
- Cagayan State University – P9.684 million
- Nueva Viscaya State University – P273, 000
- Central Luzon State University – P11.462 million
- Tarlac College of Agriculture – P1.062 million
- Cavite State University – P9.563 million
- Laguna State Polytechnic College – P6.176 million
- Southern Luzon Polytechnic College P2.733 million
- ; University of Rizal System P1.523 million
- Camarines Norte State College P1.958 million
- Sorsogon State College P317,000
- Carlos C. Hilado Memorial State College P10.728 million
- Iloilo Science and Technology University/Western Visayas College of Science and Technology P28.890 million
- Iloilo State University of Science and Technology/Iloilo State College of Fisheries P4.836 million
- University of Antique – P4.332 million
- Bohol Island State University – P21.249 million
- Cebu Technological University – P40.631 million
- Eastern Visayas State University – P2.402 million
- Naval State University – P831,000
- Northwest Samar State University – P1.822 million
- Palompon Polytechnic State University – P1.014 million
- University of Eastern Philippines – P4.768 million
- Visayas State University – P1.594 million
- J.H. Ceriles State College – P971,000
- Western Mindanao State University – P7.123 million
- Compostela Valley State College – P10,000
- Davao del Norte State College – P1.524 million
- Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology – P3.718 million
- University of Southern Philippines – P30.329 million
- Cotabato State University – P7.178 million
- and University of Southern Mindanao – P470,000
Nograles said that all other SUCs not included in the list maintained their MOOE budget based on their allocation in 2016. – Rappler.com