House approves 2013 budget on third, final reading

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Monday, October 15, 2012


THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading on Monday the proposed P2.006-trillion national budget for 2013.

A total of 195 representatives voted in favor of the proposed appropriation, while six voted against it, mostly members of party-list groups.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the approved 2013 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) will be transmitted to the Senate on Tuesday.
 
"We will immediately transmit this (national budget) to the Senate tomorrow (Tuesday)," he said, referring to House Bill 6455 or the GAB.
 
The House of Representatives is scheduled to adjourn Tuesday, October 16. Sessions will resume on November 5.
 
After the Senate approves its own version of the appropriations bill, the two chambers will reconcile the two versions in a bicameral conference committee. The bicameral report will then be ratified before it is sent to Malacanang for President Benigno Aquino III's signature.

The six representatives who voted against the budget are Orlando Fua (Siquijor), Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna), Emmi de Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela), Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers), and Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis).
 
Tinio said the 2013 budget bill continues the long trend of prioritizing debt servicing over education, health and sanitation, housing, and other social services, citing the 17.9 percent of the proposed budget allocated to debt burden.

"That's larger than the combined budget for education and health.  The priority given to debt servicing continues to be the main reason for the gross underfunding of social services by government, resulting in the deprivation of basic services to generations of Filipinos," he said.

Casiño, for his part, said the proposed budget remains unresponsive to the needs of the poor and the marginalized.

"Contrary to the executive's claim that it is a budget of empowerment, the 2013 budget, though seemingly larger, will bring about exclusive and unsustainable growth. It might indeed bring about rapid growth but not of the quality we want," he said.

Incoming Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, meanwhile, said the so-called Priority Social and Economic Projects Fund, which was earlier said to be used as an "election budget" of the administration, has already been broken down.
 
"Zero na. We made sure it was zero, otherwise it will be drawing attention," he told reporters. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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