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Bicam OKs P3-T budget for 2016

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and House bicameral conference committee on Wednesday, December 9, approved the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016.

Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Commitee on Finance; and Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab, House committee on appropriations chair, will present the bicameral report before the Senate and the House, respectively, for ratification before it is submitted to President Benigno Aquino III.

Congress leaders expect both houses to ratify the measure by next week, before lawmakers go on holiday break on December 19.

"We are confident that the President will be able to sign the proposed 2016 national budget into law before Christmas," Legarda said.

Ungab said this will be the 6th consecutive time that the budget would be passed on time, or before the start of the new year. "By January 1, 2016, there will be a new budget of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.

The proposed budget provides for an increased budget for the Office of the Vice-President of P500 million from P250 million. Senator Juan Ponce Enrile had pushed for the increased OVP budget during the Senate deliberations.

Ungad cited 4 substantial changes, restorations, and augmentations in House Bill 6132 reflected in the bicameral report:

Legarda said changes to HB 6132 include the P422.468-million increase in the Department of Education (DepEd) budget – to P411.905 billion from P411.482 billion – to support the implementation of the K-12 program, particularly for the construction of classrooms and hiring of additional teachers.

She said SUCs will have a total budget of P47 billion next year.

The Department of Energy budget was increased to P795.44 million from P775.876 million, a P19.564 million increase.

The Department of Science and Technology budget was increased to P18.029 billion from P17.949 billion, while budgetary support to government corporations was adjusted to P103.453 billion, from P113.351 billion.

The Department of Transportation and Communications budget was adjusted by P773 million, or to P42.680 billion from P43.453 billion.

Apparently to prevent another Torre de Manila case, Legarda said that the proposed budget contains a special provision that prohibits the alteration, renovation, or demolition of heritage buildings and open spaces declared by government or presumed to be important cultural properties. (READ: Timeline: The Torre de Manila case)

This includes the protection of the sight line with regard to built heritage, cultural properties and cultural landscapes, without approval of cultural agencies and consultation with stakeholders, she said. – Rappler.com