WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
It’s the final budget season under President Rodrigo Duterte, and it’s less than a year before the 2022 elections that will elect his successor.
For the upcoming year, the Duterte government is requesting P5.024 trillion ($100.84 billion), which is up for approval in Congress. The government argues that it made this huge budget request to keep government services going while fending off a raging pandemic.
Even though time is scarce, lawmakers promise intense scrutiny, especially after the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged multibillion-peso pandemic expenses, causing public outrage.
Hearings are scheduled at the House of Representatives from August to September. The Senate would then conduct its own hearings before approving it ideally by December.
Follow the budget debates in Congress – and take one of the first steps in holding government accountable – through this live blog. Bookmark and refresh this page for updates.
Bicam agrees to give P17 billion to NTF-ELCAC in 2022
The bicameral conference committee agreed to allot P17 billion for the controversial anti-insurgency task force of President Rodrigo Duterte in the proposed 2022 national budget.
Senate finance committee chairman Sonny Angara said this in a chance interview with reporters on Wednesday, December 15, the same day the bicam approved its report on the P5.024-trillion 2022 budget.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict received a budget of P19.1 billion in 2021.
Read more here.
Senate ends plenary debates on 2022 budget
The Senate capped off late Tuesday night, November 23, its almost three-week marathon plenary debates on the proposed P5.024-trillion budget in 2022.
Save for issues that delayed the senators’ approval of funds for the Philippine Sports Commission and the Presidential Communications Operations Office by a day, all other government agencies breezed through the plenary as their appropriations were endorsed for second reading on the same day they were sponsored at the plenary.
Senate finance committee chairman Sonny Angara thanked his colleagues for the “team effort” during the debates.
“So just really a word of thanks to all because it was a total team effort and everyone did their utmost effort to conduct this under very difficult circumstances,” said Angara.
The Senate is expected to pass the 2022 budget bill by next week.
Senate censures PCOO official for drinking alcohol during budget debates
Dominique Tajon, general manager of the PCOO-attached APO Printing Office, drinks an alcoholic beverage while attending the session virtually. “Inappropriate pictures of individuals not clothed properly” were also seen through his camera.
Senate recalls PSC’s 2022 budget due to Obiena-PATAFA row
In a rare move, senators recalled on Monday, November 22, their approval of the Philippine Sports Commission’s proposed P364.24-million budget in 2022 after it failed to intervene in the ongoing funding row between Olympic pole vaulter EJ Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association.
Read more here.
Senate resumes 2022 budget debates after COVID-19 scare
The Senate resumed on Monday, November 22, its plenary deliberations on the proposed P5.024-trillion ($99.23-billion) budget in 2022 following a coronavirus infection scare last week.
The Senate leadership had to suspend the scheduled plenary debates last Thursday, November 18, after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was physically present in the chamber last week, tested positive for COVID-19.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Monday they are resuming the debates after none of the senators who were exposed to Lorenzana were infected.
“Negative ako at negative din lahat [ng] senators exposed sa kanya last week. Kaya tuloy sessions namin [ng] 10 am to tackle the budget. No more delays para ma approve na namin ito,” Zubiri told reporters.
(I tested negative along with all the senators who were exposed to him last week. That’s why our sessions will resume at 10 am to tackle the budget. No more delays so we can approve this already.)
Completion of AFP modernization pushed back to 2028
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who is among the sponsors of the 2022 budget of the Department of National Defense, said during a Senate session on Tuesday, November 16, that the completion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization will be pushed back to 2028.
It’s a one-year delay because, according to Dela Rosa, the original target was 2027.
The senator added that the “small” budget allocation for the military affected the modernization plans. The AFP’s proposed 2022 budget is P47.72 billion.
Only 1% or 26 out of over 2,000 NTF-ELCAC projects completed
Out of over 2,000 projects spearheaded by President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial anti-insurgency task force, only 26 of them were completed.
This is according to a letter submittedon Monday, November 8, by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to the Senate finance committee.