SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco today approved on third and final reading the proposed P4.056-trillion national budget for 2021, reaffirming its commitment to pass the highest quality budget that would help Filipinos and the economy rebound, reset and recover from the adverse impact of COVID-19.
Capping four days of marathon deliberations, a total of 257 legislators voted in favor of House Bill No. 7727 or the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB). Only six voted against the measure and no one abstained.
In his closing remarks, Speaker Velasco thanked House members for responding to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to hold a special session to ensure the timely passage of the government’s spending plan for next year.
The Speaker also congratulated his colleagues for their active involvement on the approval of the 2021 appropriations bill, which he described as a “no ordinary” budget.
“It is an extraordinary budget for extraordinary times. There is so much at stake here: our health, the economy, jobs and livelihood, food security, the education of our children, and much more,” he said.
Velasco likewise expressed his gratitude to the President for “taking a principled, decisive leadership” in calling for the special session, which allowed House members to further scrutinize the agency budgets and to thresh out issues relevant to each department and concerned sector.
“We have provided every representative the opportunity to raise issues, clarify any misconceptions, and recommend how we can make the budget truly responsive to our current and pressing needs and conditions,” he said.
The Speaker said he was “humbled and heartened by the realization that no one or any group has the monopoly of knowledge and competence.”
He added: “Every member of this institution has something to contribute and deserves to be heard. That we can do better by listening to one another and working together, for our people deserve nothing less.”
At the same time, Velasco said he was proud of the 2021 GAB for being “truly reflective and responsive to the needs of our people.”
“We have proven that playing by the rules, without resorting to shortcuts, and keeping our time-honored traditions and values, we can produce better and superior outputs,” he said.
The third reading approval came minutes after the House passed the GAB on second reading, marking the second consecutive year that the budget bill breezed through its second and third readings on the same day.
The agencies which received the biggest allocations were: Department of Education, P754.4 billion; Department of Public Works and Highways, P667.3 billion; Department of the Interior and Local Government, P246.1 billion; Department of National Defense, P209.1 billion; Department of Health (DOH), P203.1 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development, P171.2 billion; Department of Transportation, P143.6 billion; Department of Agriculture, P66.4 billion; the Judiciary, P43.5 billion; and Department of Labor and Employment, P27.5 billion.
The DOH budget includes an initial P2.5 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines next year.
Meanwhile, Velasco assured his fellow lawmakers and the President that “we will not have a reenacted budget by
January of next year.”
“We will transmit without delay the approved Bill to the Senate and give our counterparts sufficient time to likewise examine the national budget,” Velasco said.
The House leader also reminded his colleagues that the task over the budget does not end with its passage. “We will have to make sure that the programs are properly implemented, that public funds as appropriated do not go to waste.” #