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House, DBM agree to restore budget cuts in education, health, infra in 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The  House of Representatives and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) have agreed to realign funds within the proposed cash-based P3.757-trillion 2019 budget to address huge cuts for key sectors like education, health, and infrastructure.  

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya said this was one of the consensus decided upon during his meeting with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, and House committee on appropriations Karlo Nograles on Tuesday, August 28.  

Unang-una, nag-agree kami na may kakulangan. That’s one. Secondly, na ibabalik namin 'yong mga kakulangan na 'yon. Of course, selected lang. 'Di naman kaya lahat. And then, we would have a unified voice on this matter,” Andaya told reporters after their meeting held at the Batasang Pambansa. 

(First, we agreed some allocations were not enough. That’s one. We agreed that we must restore these cuts. Of course, this would be for selected sectors only. We can’t do it for all. And then, we would have a unified voice on this matter.) 

“We are in agreement that we will work together and cooperate… No misunderstandings [anymore],” added the Camarines Sur 1st District representative. (READ: What is cash-based budgeting?

For now, Andaya said the House and the executive branch would work together to realign allocations for the education and health sectors as well as the Department of Public Works and Highways. 

Under the cash-based budgeting system, the biggest budget cuts may be experienced by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH) for their funds to construct new classrooms and health facilities, respectively.

Nograles previously said DepEd’s proposed Basic Education Facilities Fund for 2019 suffered a whopping P69.4 billion cut compared to 2018, while DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) fund was clipped of P30.3 billion.

DPWH’s proposed budget for 2019 is about P93 billion lower than this year’s budget due to the cash-based budgeting system. (READ: DPWH on cash-based 2019 budget: ‘Challenging, but we will adjust’)

Supplemental budget for Bangasmoro, Internal Revenue Allotment: Andaya said they are also considering a supplemental budget to fund the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law as well as the recent Supreme Court decision that a "just share" of local government units shall be sourced from all national taxes, not just from national internal revenue taxes.

They are estimating this supplemental budget to cost around P140 billion.

The lawmaker also assured the public that there will be no reenacted budget in 2019. The issue was raised during the deadlock over the 2019 budget, when district representatives initially refused to support a cash-based budgeting system. 

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself met with the House leaders as well as Diokno and Dominguez to convince them to break the impasse and find a compromise on the 2019 budget.

Andaya said they are targeting to pass the 2019 budget on 3rd and final reading at the House by October 12. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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