House, Senate will see 'eye-to-eye' on P77-B amendments to the 2023 budget--Romualdez

The House leadership is confident that the Senate will agree to the former's P77-billion institutional amendments to the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023, saying this would augment funds for education, health, transportation and other critical social services.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez (Speaker’s office)

House Speaker Martin Romualdez had this to say Sunday, Nov. 27, a few days after the start of the Bicameral Conference Committee meeting on the disagreeing provisions of the 2023 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) or national budget.

“We really feel that these institutional amendments will redound to the benefit of the people. Hinding-hindi tayo magkakamali kung ang kapakanan ng mamamayan ang ating uunahin (We can never go wrong by prioritizing the welfare of our countrymen),” Romualdez said.

“And we are confident that the Senate and the House bicam members will see eye-to-eye on this. Our objectives are the same: to pass a people’s budget that reflects President Marcos Jr.’s eight-point economic agenda that will help the country bounce back from the pandemic,” added Romualdez, who is Leyte’s 1st district representative.

House Appropriations Committee chairman and Ako Bikol Party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co echoed the Speaker’s statements, saying the House prioritized the welfare of the people when it included the P77-billion institutional amendments.

“Our amendments can speak for themselves. You can see that is indeed pro-people and pro-development as we prioritized health, education and transportation. We are confident that if the Senate and the House approve these amendments, we can recover well from the pandemic in 2023,” said Co, who is part of the House contingent to the bicam on the budget.

The first bicam meeting took place Friday at Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City.

The institutional amendments are assistance or “ayuda” programs that will directly benefit the people.

This includes P12.5 billion under the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD), which is broken down into: Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations or AICS (P5 billion), upgrade of senior citizens’ pension through the National Commission of Senior Citizens (P5 billion), and Sustainable Livelihood Program (P2.5 billion).

Co also cited the Department of Transportation's (DOTr) P5.5 billion for programs addressing the rising cost of fuel like the fuel subsidy program (P2.5 billion), Libreng Sakay (P2 billion) and bike lane construction (P1 billion); and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE’s) P5 billion for the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program (P3 billion) and livelihood (P2 billion) are also part of this direct benefit to the people.