House Minority backs P20-B institutional amendments during Bicam meetings

Published October 28, 2020, 7:17 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Minority Bloc will fight for the P20 billion in institutional amendments to the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) that’s being sought by the House leadership once the bill reaches the Bicameral Conference Committee stage.

Minority Leader and ABANG LINGKOD Party-List Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano gave this assurance Wednesday, as he bared that these amendments were culled from ideas floated by the Minority solons during the House budget process.

“Those were the amendments introduced by members of the Minority during the committee and plenary deliberations. These include additional budget for vaccines, mental hospitals, hospitals, teachers’ internet allowance for distance learning, etc.,” Paduano said.

“We are glad that the ‘small committee’ and the (House) leadership has accommodated the said amendments. Minority will support these amendments in the Bicam,” he added.

On Tuesday, October 27, the House leadership under the Speaker, Marinduque lone district Rep. Lord Allan Velasco transmitted the P4.506-trillion GAB or proposed 2021 budget to the Senate. This was a day ahead of the Upper Chamber’s request for the submission of the fiscal measure.

The 301-strong House of Representatives passed the GAB on third and final reading last October 16. Three days later, the small committee formed by Velasco approved P20 billion worth of institutional amendments to the measure.

But the final form of the budget bill will be known only after the House and Senate versions of the measure are reconciled in the Bicam, or the meeting between the select contingents from the two legislative chambers. This is standard procedure for proposed laws.

The 24-member Senate expects to pass their version of the 2021 GAB by end of November.

As per small committee member Albay 2nd district Rep, Joey Salceda, the institutional amendments are broken down as follows: P5.5-billion budget augmentation for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines; P2 billion for pandemic assistance to afflicted families; P2 billion to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the acquisition of two C-130 planes; P2 billion for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program, or the construction of unfinished hospitals; P2 billion to the Department of Interior and Local Government for police mobility assets; and P1.75 billion to the Department of Education for Internet connectivity.

Also green-lit were P500 million to the Energy Regulatory Commission for self-sufficiency and renewable energy (RE); P400 million to the Philippine National Oil Company for RE development and modernization; and P300 million to the Department of Health for mental health purposes.