Senate approves P5.02-T 2022 budget on final reading

Ramon Royandoyan – Philstar.com

December 1, 2021 | 6:33pm

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MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 — his administration’s last outlay that would ensure the government is well-funded to fight the pandemic.

Twenty-two senators voted to clear the record-high spending plan that Duterte certified as an urgent measure in a bid to speed up its passage and prevent a situation where the government would operate on a re-enacted budget, which could derail the country’s fragile recovery.

The proposed outlay will now be scrutinized by a bicameral conference committee, which is composed of leaders from both chambers of Congress who would meet to reconcile their versions of the budget bill. The bicameral-approved version of the bill will then be sent to Duterte for his signature.

Discussions on the historic budget — largest in the country’s history as it was designed to combat the coronavirus pandemic and aid economic recovery — were contentious on the Senate floor.

Senators sought to tweak funding for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Duterte’s anti-insurgency project that has been known for red-tagging civilians and civic society groups. Under the Senate’s version of the budget bill, NTF-ELCAC’s funding was slashed by 86% and parts of its original budget proposal have been moved to bankroll benefits for health workers. 

Senators also inserted P45.37 billion that will fund purchases of booster shots for the public.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III designated several senators to join the bicameral conference committee, with Sen. Sonny Angara as the chairman. Angara will be joined by Senators Miguel Zubiri, Cynthia Villar, Ronald dela Rosa, Pia Cayetano, Sherwin Gatchalian, Bong Go, Richard Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Imee Marcos, Joel Villanueva, Grace Poe, and Nancy Binay. 



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