The education sector will get the highest budgetary allocation for next year at P773.6 billion while health programs under the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation become only the fourth in the list of budgetary priorities with P242 billion expected to be earmarked in 2022.
This was gathered after the executive department submitted to the House of Representatives the proposed P5.024 trillion national budget for 2022, the highest in the country’s history.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the submission of the proposed National Expenditure Program (NEP) starts the “budget season in Congress or the legislative process of evaluation.” “We, in the House of Representatives, are all set to carry out our constitutional duty of carefully scrutinizing the P5.024-trillion national budget, which includes an allocation of at least P240.75 billion for COVID-19 response,” said Velasco in a statement.
Undersecretaries Rolando Toledo, Kim Robert De Leon and Janet Abuel of the Department of Budget and Management handed over the proposed NEP to Velasco and key leaders of the Lower House in simple ceremonies on Monday, August 23.
“As the coronavirus pandemic drags on and with no end in sight, it is incumbent upon Congress to swiftly pass a national budget that will not only serve as an instrument for development, but also as a powerful tool to decisively defeat COVID-19 and rebuild people’s lives and livelihoods.,” said Velasco.
The proposed budget, however, listed the health sector only in the fourth rung of the priorities, with education, public works and infrastructure development and local governance and peace and order, overtaking it with higher allocation proposals.
Aside from the P773.6 billion for DepEd, the DBM sought an allocation of P686.1 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways and P250 billion for the Department of Interior and Local Government.
The DOH and Philhealth, which are in the forefront of the anti-pandemic programs of government, will be getting P242 billion, at last P20 billion more than what the Department of National Defense will get.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development, another lead agency in addressing the COVID-19 crisis, follows the DND, with P191.4 billion in proposed budget for 2022.
Rounding up the top 10 departments with highest proposed allotments are he Department of Transportation, P151.3 billion; Department of Agriculture and National Irrigation Authority, P103.5 billion; the judiciary, P45 billiion and the Department of Labor and Employment, P44.9 billion.
DepEd’s 2022 budget is ,21.9 billiion or 2.9 percent higher compared to its share from the current year allocation.; In submitting the proposed 2022 budget, the DBM said the NEP of P5.024 trillion is “equivalent to 22.8 percent of gross domestic product and is higher than 11.5 percent” than the current year’s allocation.
Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc said it will examine closely the proposed budget as members of the group questioned the huge amount of unused funds and savings under the Duterte administration.
“Without proper accounting, we cannot blame the people for thinking that this administration is trying to create an enormous war chest in the run up for the 2022 elections,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on the questionable saving under the government.
Budget deliberations are also expected to zero in on the adverse audit observations made by the Commission on Audit on various agencies.
Among these are the DOH, DPWH, DSWD and DepEd which were granted huge budgetary allocations to implement vital anti-COVID 19 programs.