The Senate has terminated the plenary debates on the proposed P5.268-trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) early Friday, November 18.
On the last day of the period of interpellations, the Senate approved the budgets of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) at P9.7-billion; the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) at P24.665-billion; National Commission on Senior Citizens (NCSC) at P193.343-million; Commission on Higher Education (CHED) at P35.463-billion; Department of Health (DOH) at P215.333-billion; and Congress of the Philippines for P26.154-billion.
Other agencies’ budget that were approved during the six-day plenary debates by the Senate also include the Office of the President, Office of the Vice President, Department of Agrarian Reform; Department of Agriculture, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Budget and Management; Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Finance, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Migrant Workers, Department of National Defense, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Transportation, National Economic and Development Authority,
The Senate also finished deliberations on the budget of the Office of the Press Secretary, the Judiciary and other executive offices, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit (COA), Commission on Elections (Comelec), Office of the Ombudsman, Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Senators are expected to introduce committee and individual amendments on the GAB starting next week.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Deputy Minority leader Sen. Risa Hontiveros had earlier vowed to pursue the realignment of the confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) under the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and DepEd during the period of amendments.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier certified the 2023 GAB as urgent. This means the Senate is allowed to approve the budget measure on second and third reading on the same day.
Once approved on third and final reading, lawmakers both at the Senate and House of Representatives will reconcile the differences in their versions of the 2023 budget at the bicameral conference committee.
Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said the Senate is targeting to pass the bill on final reading by November 23 and ratify the measure by the end of the month and pass the measure on the first week of December.
The Senate leader also assured that there would be no reenacted budget in 2023.