Angara: P5.268-T budget for 2023 ‘thoroughly examined, heavily debated’

The Marcos administration’s first national expenditure program underwent thorough scrutiny and was subject to intense debates by lawmakers before it was ratified.

Senate Finance Committee chief Senator Sonny Angara gave this assurance when he presented the bicameral conference committee report on the consolidated version of the P5.268-trillion national on Monday night.

“Although the budget for 2023 is fast (approved), it does not mean that it was rushed. It has been thoroughly examined. Well studied. Heavily debated—sometimes even into the wee hours of the morning,” Angara said during his speech at the Senate plenary on Monday, December 5.

“In this process, we ensured that in the first budget forged under the administration of President Bongbong Marcos Jr., there is appropriate support for its programs and projects,” he further said.

Lawmakers have left intact the controversial P9.3-billion in confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) of various offices, restoring the P150-million CIF of the Department of Education (DepEd) that senators have agreed to realign to the agency’s programs.

In next year’s budget for CIFs, P4.5-billion will go to the Office of the President and P500-million to the Office of the Vice President (OVP).

Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio heads the OVP and is the concurrent DepEd secretary.

But other than the boost given to the education sector, Angara said next year’s budget boasts of greater support for the development of Philippine agriculture and strengthening the country’s food security.

He said significant funding for the agriculture sector will remain under the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agencies, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

“The government will still provide aid to those who need it,” Angara also said, assuring that the 4Ps or the conditional cash transfer program will continue to run.

Lawmakers, he said also decided to increase the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) and the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as well as emergency employment programs of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) such as Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD).

“The bicam also decided to increase the funds allocated for the Social Pension of our senior citizens. This is to fulfill the legislative RA 11916 that doubled the amount of social pension of our grandparents who are poor,” Angara pointed out.

The 2023 budget, the senator said, also seeks to make good on the Marcos administration’s promise to “Build Better More.” The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) received a “significant across-the-board increase” for its programs and projects which include road widening, construction of diversion roads, flyovers, interchanges and underpasses.