House okays budget provision for Nat'l Citizens Service Training program

The powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which handles and approves the country’s national budget, has approved the budget provisions of the substitute bill, subject to amendments, that would create a National Citizens Service Training Program (NCST) in all public and private tertiary education institutions in the country.


The proposed measure was forwarded to the appropriations committee from the House Committees on Higher and Technical Education and Basic Education and Culture.

Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Raul Angelo Bongalon, the committee’s vice chair, led the recommendation to delete Section 38 of the substitute bill to “insert the phrase ‘subject to the evaluation and approval of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’.”

Baguio City Lone District Rep. Mark Go, chair of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, did not raise objections to the recommendation to delete Section 38.

Senior vice chair and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo explained the reason for the deletion.

“The reason for the deletion is because of the amendment that we will propose for the appropriation provision which is Section 41,” she said.

According to the presentation during the hearing, the current Section 41 in the substitute bill would be deleted entirely in lieu of: “Sec. 41 Appropriations - The amount necessary for the initial implementation of this Act shall be charged against the current year appropriations of the offices and agencies concerned. Thereafter, the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).”

Judith Quiamson, a representative from the DBM, said the agency has “no objection” to the amendments approved by the House panel.

“On the provision regarding creation of offices and plantilla positions to ensure consistency with the established policy and standards and to ensure funding the creation of new or additional offices and the corresponding position should be evaluated and approved by the DBM,” she said.

“So, on this regard, Madam Chair, we suggest that the bill clearly states that the creation of offices and the corresponding positions shall be submitted to the DBM for review and approval,” she added.

Quiamson also explained that the “initial funding requirements should be charged against the current year appropriations of the agencies concerned” while the budget for the succeeding years should be part of the agency’s proposed budget and its inclusion in the GAA “shall be subject to evaluation by the DBM using the criteria, parameters, and priorities for the particular budgetary and subsequent authorization by Congress.”

READ: NCST, ROTC bills’ consolidation OK’d by House panel

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, however, raised concerns about how NCST could impact the finances of a family.

“Ang gusto ko lang po sabihin dagdag gastos lang ‘yan sa magulang (What I would like to say is this is an additional expenses for the parents),” she said, adding that the parents would need to spend on uniforms and other requirements for the program.

Go replied that they would study the estimated cost of the related items needed in the implementation of the measure if it becomes law.

Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab also clarified the roles of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of National Defense (DND).

“I just want to make sure there is a particular office under the CHED or DND who will be handling this, who will take charge, who will be accountable, who will be responsible to make sure that the objectives of this law is properly implemented,” the lawmaker asserted.

The substitute bill is a consolidation of House Bills (HBs) 503, 639, 792, 1692, 2174, 2339, 2628, 2759, 3035, 3045, 3090, 3437, 3450, 3513, 3613, 3637, 4019, 4083, 4105, 4308, 4500, 4590, 4872, 5217, 6078, 6136, 6486, and 6549 – Instituting a National Citizens Service Training Program in all public and private tertiary education institutions, repealing for the purpose RA 9163, otherwise known as the National Service Training Program Act, and appropriating funds therefor.

These are authored by Reps. Edvic Yap, Joey Sarte Salceda, Antonio Albano, Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Raul Tupas, Maria Vanessa Aumentado, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Joseph Gilbert Violago, Richard Gomez, Florida Robes, Anthony Rolando Golez Jr., Jaime Fresnedi, Florencio Gabriel Noel, Romeo Acop, Kristine Singson-Meehan, Bienvenido Abante, Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., Gus Tambunting, Marvin Rillo, Rex Gatchalian, Arnolfo Teves Jr., Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy, Virgilio Lacson, Rufus Rodriguez, Christopherson Yap, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Rep. Cheeno Miguel Almario.

The measures’ mother bill—HB 6486—was authored by the House Speaker, as well as Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Dalipe, and Tingog Part-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre.

Under HB 6486, or the “National Citizens Service Training Program Act,” the State “will enhance the capacity of its citizens to mobilize and perform their constitutional duty to render personal military or civil service to the State in times of calamities and disasters, national or local emergencies, rebellion, invasion, or war by the establishment of a unified, comprehensive and holistic national citizens service training and mobilization system.”

This will be done through the mandatory NCST program, optional ROTC program, and “a feasible, realistic and operational National Service Reservist and Citizen Soldier mobilization program through the National Service Reserve Corps and the AFP Reserve Force.”