THE House of Representative and Senate panels ratified the bicameral conference committee report on report on the proposed P5.024 trillion budget for next year.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the ratified budget bill will be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature, ensuring Filipinos of no reenacted budget by next year.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Sonny Angara confirmed that at least P20 to P30 billion was added to the proposed budget of the Department of Health for 2022 as the COVID19 pandemic continues.
Angara explained that the DOH budget was increased because they included funds to finance special risk allowances of health workers and for the procurement of vaccines and booster shots.
“‘Yung DOH is I think up by at least P20 to P30 billion over what the President submitted, maraming kulang doon so nandoon ‘yung risk allowance. I think dinagdagan namin ‘yung sa boosters tapos sa testing mayroon din doon,” Angara said.
Angara added that the funds allotted for COVID-19 vaccines is around P45 to P50 billion.
Meanwhile, at least P32 billion was allocated for State Universities and Colleges as the education sector is slowly returning to face-to-face classes.
Angara said the education sector still gets the highest allocation in the proposed national budget.
“Education is still the highest, you’re talking about P800 billion sa education sector but ‘yung health… big increase also this year,” Angara said.
AGE IN DETERMINING STATUTORY RAPE
Likewise ratified was the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 2332 and House Bill No. 7836 on increasing the age in determining statutory rape.
Both Houses agreed to raise the age of statutory rape from the current 12 years old to 16 years old in a bid to protect young people from sexual exploitation and abuse.
In the House, the committees of revision of laws (chaired by Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla) and of welfare of the children (chaired by Tingog Party-list Rep. Yeddah Marie Romualdez) jointly worked on the approval of the House version.
With the passage of the bill, it is now a step closer to becoming a law after President Rodrigo Duterte signed it.
Principal authors, including Montalla and Romualdez said the bill will ensure that Filipino children are given optimum protection under laws and within the bounds of the democratic society that the country has.
The bill was also aligned with the age of consent in other crimes under the criminal code and other anti-child abuse and exploitation laws like the R.A. No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act or RA No. 9344, as amended by RA No. 10630.
In a statement, Montalla said the bill is long overdue as the data scream loudly and clearly speak that the crime of rape remains rampant in the country.
“What we know are the reported cases but the true statistics may be higher considering that there are a lot of unreported and unaccounted cases of rape and other forms of sexual abuse and exploitation that are happening,” she further said.
For her part, Romualdez said this progress means a step closer to the justice that we are fighting for the children victimized by the heartless individuals and the gap in present laws.
She added that the establishment of a minimum age of sexual consent is the most important and critical criteria in protecting minors from sexual violence since the present Anti-Rape Law establishes the age of sexual consent at 12 years.
The bill states that any sexual intercourse with a minor who has not reached the age of 12 is automatically regarded as rape, regardless of whether they say or appeared to have voluntarily engaged in the sexual act.
The measure seeks to impose reclusion perpetua or 40 years imprisonment for the crime of statutory rape against minors who are under 16 years old.
“Definitely, no children should be left without sufficient protection especially from rape. Child rape is an ugly and painful reality that we must collectively confront and address immediately and decisively. But it is not enough that we are indignant,” Romualdez said.
Meanwhile, the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), was not granted with its proposed budget.
Instead of its proposal of P28 billion, the Congress only approved P17.1 billion, lower than the 2021 budget of P19 billion.
The 95 percent budget of NTF-ELCAC is allocated to the Barangay Development Program (BDP), the administration’s flagship project.
Velasco said the House wanted to assure the public that there will be no reenacted budget as it could slow economic growth and hamper the delivery of government services.
For FY 2022 the NEP amounts to P5.024 trillion, which is equivalent to 22.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product and is higher by 11.5 percent than this year’s national budget.
Bulk of the budget, amounting to P1.456 trillion or 29.0 percent, will go to Personnel Services expenditures to cover the hiring of healthcare workers and teaching personnel, the implementation of the third tranche of the Salary Standardization Law V, and the requirements of the 2018 Military and Uniformed Personnel pension arrears, among others.
Capital Outlays are pegged at P939.8 billion while Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures will reach P777.9 billion next year. Debt burden amounts to P541.3 billion, which corners 10.8 percent of the FY 2022 NEP and is lower by 3.4 percent year-on-year. The support to Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations, composed of National
Government subsidies and equity, sums up to P178.0 billion while Tax Expenditures remain the same with this year’s level at P14.5 billion.
The allocation to Local Government Units (LGUs) will amount to P1.116 trillion. This includes the P959.0 billion National Tax Allotment share of LGUs.
The General Public Services sector is allocated with P862.7 billion (17.2%), the Debt Burden with P541.3 billion (10.8 percent), and the Defense sector with P224.4 billion (4.5 percent).
The top 10 departments with highest allocations are: Department of Education (DepED) P773.6 billion; Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P686.1 billion; Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), P250.4 billion; Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (DoH/PhilHealth), P242.0 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), P222.0 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P191.4 billion; Department of Transportation (DOTr), P151.3 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Irrigation Authority (NIA), P103.5 billion, The Judiciary, P45.0 billion, and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), P44.9 billion. With Jester Manalastas