P2.268-T national budget for 2014 gets House nod
Posted at 09/28/2013 2:41 AM | Updated as of 09/28/2013 7:32 PM
MANILA - The House of Representatives on early Saturday morning approved the P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget in a viva voce vote on 2nd reading.
A small committee was created to receive congressmen's proposed infrastructure projects, in line with the realignment of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to different agencies, including the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The members were House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales and lawmakers Isidro Ungab, JC Rahman Nava, Rolando Andaya and Ronaldo Zamora.
The fruits of their work will be appended to the bill before it is voted on 3rd reading.
As stated by House leaders in several previous interviews, the anti-climatic approval came with the controversial PDAF deleted as a lump sum item, but all the lump sum appropriations of the Office of the President remained.
The P25.2-billion PDAF allocation was deleted in the budget and distributed to government agencies following public outrage over the supposed abuse of the pork barrel funds.
The approved budget will return to the plenary mid-October for approval on third reading.
Congress will be on break from September 28 to October 13 and from October 26 to November 17.
It is hoped that the Senate will be able to tackle the bill in time for passage before yearend.
Among the presidential lump sum items which critics wanted removed from the discretion of the Office of the President are the following:
- P46.69 billion - Budgetary support to government-owned and controlled corporations
- P1.00 billion - School building program
- P2.50 billion – E-Government fund
- P12.00 billion - Department of Agriculture (Farm to market road)
- P44.63 billion - Department of Education (various items for school buildings)
- P11.39 billion - Various Infrastructure Including Local Projects
- P13.30 billion - Department of Health (Health Facilities Enhancement Program)
- P5.10 billion – Department of Agriculture (Irrigation fund)
The DPWH, meantime, walked away with more than half of the PDAF that was realigned to the 6 executive agencies.
- DPWH: P9.65 billion
- CHED: P2.66 billion
- DEPED P1.02 billion
- DOH: P3.69 billion
- DSWD: P4.71 billion
- DOLE: P3.69 billion
Lawmakers beat the deadline to submit itemized proposals for infrastructure projects.
They can also endorse beneficiaries for the social services to the concerned agencies.
DepEd to get most funds
The top 10 agencies that will get bulk of the budget are:
- Department of Education: P336.9 billion from P293.4 billion (2013)
- Department of Public Works and Highways: P213.5 billion from P152.4 billion
- Department of Interior and Local Government: P135.4 billion from P121.8 billion
- Department of National Defense: P123.1 billion from P121.6 billion
- Department of Health: P87.1 billion from P59.9 billion
- Department of Agriculture: P80.7 billion from P75 billion
- Department of Social Welfare and Development: P79 billion from P56.4 billion
- Department of Transportation and Communication: P48.7 billion from P37.1 billion
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources: P23.9 billion from P23.7 billion
- Department of Agrarian Reform: P20.4 billion from P21.4 billion
The proposed budget gives more money to the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to cover 4.44 million households and 10.2 million youth beneficiaries, and provide support for high school students.
The House minority bloc's leaders, Ronaldo Zamora and Neri Colmenares, delivered turno en contra speeches against the budget.
"The 2014 budget is a presidential pork budget which has castrated Congress," Colmenares said.
"We have to vote no on this budget but even as we vote no we tell our people we vote for you and your future," Zamora said.
The House independent bloc headed by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez also voted "no" to the proposed 2014 national budget.
Other members of the Bloc are Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, Rep. Philip Pichay of Surigao del Sur, Rep. Victor Francisco Ortega of La Union, Rep. Diosdado Arroyo of Camarines Sur, Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla of Cavite, ABKD-Guro Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz and Rep. Aleta Suarez of Quezon.
In a statement, the bloc said it cannot accept the retention of the P1-trillion pork barrel of President Aquino in the 2014 budget without clear-cut guidelines and details on what and how will it be spent.
"Unless the purpose is revealed, we don’t know where the money goes to," Romualdez said.
The bloc pointed out that Aquino's pork barrel is almost 50 percent of the 2014 budget.
Rep. Luz Ilagan, meanwhile, moved to abolish all lump sums and rechannel to specific agencies and the general fund subject to congressional scrutiny as an omnibus individual amendment.
Appropriations panel chair Rep. Isidro Ungab rejected the proposed amendment.
The bloc earlier also called for the abolition of the President's special purpose funds.