MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - After more than a month of delay, the proposed 2019 national budget is up for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature as Congress ratified it Friday evening.
The House of Representatives and the Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed P3.75-trillion national budget for 2019, a day before Congress goes on break for the May midterm elections.
The ratification came just a few hours after senators and House members approved the budget.
Lawmakers last year failed to pass the spending law before the Dec. 31, 2018 deadline, forcing the government to run on a reenacted 2018 budget since the start of the year.
Budget deliberations in the House of Representatives stalled last year after House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. accused Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of inserting P75 billion in public works allocations.
Diokno denied wrongdoing and the Senate on Jan. 15 removed the amount.
Friday's budget ratification came in the shadows of Andaya's accusation that Diokno tried to "bribe" lawmakers for them to keep silent over alleged irregularities in the 2019 budget.
Diokno, according to Andaya, "offered the house P40 billion for us to shut up about the P75 billion insertions." The money would allegedly come from savings in the 2018 budget, Andaya claimed.
Diokno dismissed Andaya's charge as "false" and "baseless."
Malacañang welcomed the budget ratification and hailed both chambers of Congress for making a "unified approbation" of the spending law.
"We are pleased that both Houses of Congress have reconciled their differences and made a unified approbation of the General Appropriations Bill," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"Indeed there is no obstacle we cannot hurdle if we put our hearts to it, with only the interest of the Filipino people in mind," he added.
Panelo said the Duterte administration's key budget priorities were infrastructure development, poverty reduction, and better social services among others.
"We assure the nation that the Executive Branch upon its receipt of the enrolled General Appropriations Bill will thoroughly review the same to ensure that all items comply with the Constitution and the law, and more importantly, they redound to the benefit of the Filipino people," he said.
DPWH receives largest net increase: bicam report
The Department of Public Works and Highways received the largest net increase in its proposed funding, according to the bicameral conference committee report.
The Department of National Defense received a P30.098 billion, followed by the Department of Health with an additional P21.523 billion.
The budget of the following departments also received a net increase:
- Department of Social Welfare and Development: P3.158 billion
- Judiciary: P2.191 billion
- Department of Labor and employment: P2.612 billion
- Department of Education: P2.521 billion
- Department of Information and Communications Technology: P2.047 billion
- Congress: P1.775 billion
- Department of the Interior and Local Government: P1.747 billion
- Department of Justice: P1.312 billion
- DOST – P450.250 million
- Office of the Vice President: P215.700 million
- Department of Finance: P200 million
- National Economic and Development Authority: P164.067 million
- Department of Energy: P110.276 million
- Presidential Communications Operations Office: P38.710 million
- Department of Tourism: P38 million
- Other executive offices such as the Commission on Higher Education, National Commission for Culture and the Arts: P8.112 billion
- Constitutional offices such as Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections: P2.886 billion
Meanwhile, the following agencies received a net decrease in their funding:
- Department of Foreign Affairs: P6.855 billion
- Department of Transportation: P4.812 billion
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources: P2.212 billion
- Department of Agriculture: P2.046 billion
- Department of Trade and Industry: P1.561 billion
- Special purpose funds such as the Local Government Support Fund: P7.670 billion