The proposed P5.02-trillion national budget for next year now awaits President Rodrigo Duterte's signature as the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the bicameral committee report on the 2022 General Appropriations Bill.
The ratification came a few hours after lawmakers from both the Senate and the House wrapped up their deliberations on the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 10153, which lays out how the government will spend taxpayers' money for next year.
Sen. Sonny Angara, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, said the proposed 2022 budget was designed to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Narito pa rin ang probisyon para pagbawalan ang pagtulog ng pera sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno, imbis na gastusin para sa ikabubuti ng bayan," he said.
"Taglay pa rin nito ang adhikain na magsilbing pangunahing paraan para tuluyang maka-ahon muli ang bansa mula sa pandemya," he added.
Angara said lawmakers increased the budget of the Department of Health by P20 to P30 billion to fund special risk allowances of medical frontliners.
Around P45 to P50 billion were also allocated for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, and additional funds were also provided to procure booster shots for fully vaccinated Filipinos, he added.
As the country moves towards the resumption of face-to-face classes, Angara said the education sector still received the biggest chunk of the national budget to support the retrofitting of schools and provide allowances for teachers.
Additional funds were allocated to the social services sector to provide financial assistance to poor Filipinos affected by the pandemic and to give jobs to those who lost their livelihood, the senator said.
Funds were also allotted for fuel subsidies to drivers, farmers and fisherfolk who suffered from the recent oil price hikes, as well as to continue the PUV Service Contracting Program.
Despite the opposition of some lawmakers, Angara said the bicameral panel retained the budget of the government's anti-communist task force NTF-ELCAC at around P16 billion, of which 95% will be used for its barangay development program.
The President had certified the 2022 budget bill as urgent, allowing both chambers to approve the measure on second and third reading on the same day.
Depending on how long printing is going to take, Angara said Duterte could sign the bill into a law after Christmas.