THE House of Representatives and Senate have approved the Bicameral Conference Committee report on the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023, thus paving the way for its imminent ratification.
The approval of the bicam report took place Monday at the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City, where Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Elizaldy Co and Senator Sonny Angara led the delegates of the House and Senate, respectively, to their second and final Bicameral Conference Committee meeting on the 2023 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
After delivering their respective opening remarks, Co and Angara proceeded to approve the bicam report, including the realignments or institutional amendments that they agreed upon since the first bicam meeting last November 25.
Speaker Martin G. Romualdez and Co, who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations, had earlier vowed to Filipinos that the lower chamber would seek augmentations on the proposed allocations of agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Education (Deped), and Department of Transportation (DOTr) – just to name a few – in a bid to improve the delivery of social services.
“We put up more funds… masyadong malaki ang idinagdag natin sa… and sa bicam, for social services, including government hospitals,” Co said.
“Yung sa education, not only the government schools but the private schools can also be funded. And also yung TESDA (Technical Education Skills and Development Authority) and the other – sa education, hospital and universities. Lahat, it’s a very good budget,” noted the Bicol lawmaker.
“Nilagyan natin [ng budget] ‘yun ng ‘Libreng Sakay’ [program]. In fact, we added more in this bicam. And then, yung hospitals na specialty, we’re going to build a bigger hospital of about 20 floors,” added Co.
“So, you will see the promise of the President. We will build malalaking hospital all over the country, which will be good for social services. Kasi yung mga first class hospital dito sa Manila, hindi naman sila kayang pumunta sa provinces. So, we are going to fund it in a multi-year,” the House leader further said.
Aside from the “Libreng Sakay” (free rides) program of the DOTr, Co said funds were also earmarked for the fuel subsidy program and the bike lanes project.
As for the GAB’s response to calamities that have hit the country, Co said: “We put another P10 billion for the repair of the bridges na nasira sa calamity and also for the repair of school buildings na [nasira] two years ago pa. Yung sa Odette – sa Siargao, sa Dinagat.”
“And now with the recent typhoon. So, we allocated P10 billion para magawa agad ng DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) since sila ang pinakamabilis. We’ve been receiving complaints sa delay sa implementation so we put an additional P10 billion for the repair of school buildings and lahat ng bridges na nasira sa calamity,” Co further said.
Now that the bicam report has been approved, the P5.268-trillion GAB will be ratified separately by the House and Senate. The enrolled copy of the measure, signed by House and Senate officials, will then be sent to Malacañang for President Ferdinand R. “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s signature.
Committee on Appropriations Senior Vice Chairperson and Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo had earlier said that it’s possible for the GAB to be signed before Christmas.