Senate Approves P5.02 Trillion National Budget for 2022

For pandemic recovery.
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

The Senate on Wednesday approved the proposed P5.02 trillion national budget for 2022 designed to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With 22 affirmative votes, the chamber unanimously passed on third and final reading House Bill 10153, just a few minutes after it was approved on second reading.

The measure was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, allowing the chamber to approve it on second and third reading on the same day.

Sen. Sonny Angara, who sponsored the measure, said the Senate gave the Department of Health over P230 billion, higher than the P182 billion it was appropriated under the version approved by the House of Representatives.

Some of the increases in the budget for the health sector include items to provide benefits and compensation for health workers, hire and train contact tracers, and operate national reference laboratories like the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

The Department of Education also got a P6.7 billion increase in its budget of P630 billion, Angara said, as the government considers the expansion of face-to-face classes to more schools.

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Additional funding of up to P42 billion was 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.

Budgetary provisions were also included to grant 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, he added.

Following the approval of the budget bill, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives will convene in a bicameral meeting to reconcile the disagreeing provisions in their respective versions of the measure.

The reconciled bill will then have to be separately ratified by both chambers before Duterte signs it into law.

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