For House OK of funds for COVID vax procurement, SRA
HOUSE committee on appropriations chairman Eric Yap on Thursday thanked his colleagues led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez for approving the P20 billion for the procurement of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccines and booster shots and P4.5 billion for the healthcare workers’ special risk allowance (SRA) under the P5.024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2022.
Yap, who represents ACT-CIS party-list, disclosed this as the small panel led by him finished the amendments to next year’s national budget and is now working on the printing of House Bill (HB) 10153 or the 2022 GAB for transmittal to the Senate by October 27.
“We are grateful to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, the Vice Chairpersons and Members of the Appropriations Committee, and our honorable members for their active participation during the deliberations and for their efforts in ensuring the timely passage of HBN 10153,” Yap said.
“Our commitment remains the same: to provide the enabling mechanisms for a responsive and dynamic governance and to strengthen the capabilities of the government in addressing the effects of the pandemic. Rest assured that the government’s battle strategy on health and nutrition, social protection, governance, and development, are carried out in this budget,” Yap assured.
With a vote of 238 against six and zero abstention, the House of Representatives approved the 2022 national budget on third and final reading last September 30.
The House then designated Yap, Romualdez, House committee on ways and means and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, Deputy Minority Leader and Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman to consolidate the amendments on the national budget.
Aside from the P20 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots and P4.5 billion for healthcare workers’ SRA under the Department of Health (DoH), Yap said the amendments include the P5 billion Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (MAIP) that includes hospitalization and assistance to indigent and poor patients.
Yap said the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) will get P10 billion for the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD) with priorities for indigent families, informal sector families and those under the next lower poverty level as determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
He said the small committee also allocated P10 billion for the DSWD for Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) that include food assistance, food packs, transportation, medical, burial assistance, assistance to students, cash/food for work and other assistance to individuals, sectors, communities in especially difficult circumstances.
The chairman of the House committee on appropriations also said that P1 billion was earmarked for the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) that will enable each qualified household beneficiary to enroll in two different tracks, the Micro-Enterprise Development and Employment Facilitation through technical and vocational skills training.
Yap said the small panel also provided P6 billion to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for Service Contracting Program (SCP) under the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) aimed at extending assistance to transport drivers and operators tide over to their “decreased income” due to health measures enforced in public transportation and to provide free rides to the commuting public.
He said they also allocated P504 million to State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) for the operational requirement of four SUCs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College in Lanao del Sur, Cotabato State University, Sulu State College, and Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural College that was unfunded in the original proposed 2022 national budget.
Yap said the small committee allocated P3 billion for the Department of Information and Communications’ (DICT) National Broadband project to set up a well-established network that would provide faster, efficient, and equitable broadband connectivity to the country, especially for the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs).
The House leader also said that the small panel gave P5.5 billion for the Department of National Defense’s (DND) downpayment for the acquisition of five units of C-130 J for the Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) operations of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
“The 2022 national budget is crucial for our full recovery from the pandemic as a nation. After careful consideration and consultations, we have finalized the amendments for HBN 10153. As illustrated, we have appropriated additional budget to the following agencies to further enable them to swiftly, efficiently, and effectively address the needs of the Filipino people,” Yap added.