THE House plenary may now discuss budget allocations for different government agencies in 2021, as the House Appropriations Committee approved the P4.5-trillion national budget proposal under House Bill (HB) 7727.

The House panel began its deliberations on September 4, 2020.

After its two-week discussion, Appropriations Committee Chair Eric Go Yap confirmed on Friday night, September 25, that they have already approved the measure.

“As we have said many times, this year’s budget proceedings is both historic and challenging not only because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic but also because of other circumstances that this august chamber is in,” Yap said in a statement.

"We may have encountered a few bumps in the road during the past couple of weeks but it surely helped us recalibrate our focus and take one step closer towards our goal," the lawmaker added.

In August, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel Avisado submitted to Congress a P4.506-trillion national budget for 2012 that will help the government create projects to improve healthcare systems and create more jobs.

According to Avisado, the proposed budget for 2021 is 9.9 percent higher than this year’s budget of P4.1 trillion.

“The FY 2021 NEP (National Expenditure Program) will sustain government efforts and effectively respond to the Covid-19 pandemic by focusing on government spending on improving our healthcare systems, ensuring food security, creating more jobs by investing on labor intensive projects enabling a digital government and economy, as well as helping communities cope in these trying times,” he said.

Among the government agencies, the education sector will be receiving the biggest chunk of the budget, with a total of P754.4 billion.

Of this amount, 93.8 percent or P568.7 billion are new appropriations, while the remaining 6.2 percent or P37.8 billion are automatic appropriations.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will get P667.3 billion, while the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will get P246.1 billion.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) gets P209.1 billion despite facing complaints on alleged red-tagging.

During the Appropriations Committee's discussion on the Defense Agency’s budget for 2021, Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Jane Elago confronted Lorenzana for posts that “red-tag” and disseminate “false information” against her and her Makabayan Bloc colleagues.

"Disinformation based on vilification and incitement to hatred puts this representation and our membership at imminent risk of discrimination, hostility, and harm. Bakit ginagamit ang kaban ng bayan sa pagwawaldas na ito para sa disinformation at pagpapahamak ng mga buhay sa kaliwa't kanang red-tagging?" she said.

The Department of Health (DOH) will receive P203.1 billion, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will get P171.2 billion.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) will be provided P143.6 billion, while the Department of Agriculture (DA) gets P66.4 billion.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) gets P43.5 billion, while the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) gets P27.5 billion.

Vice President Leni Robredo's office will get the smallest budget with only P679 million.

"We will be very much honored if our budget will be increased. As I've said, we have been so used to making do with what we have but an increased budget will allow us to do more things with the little that will be given to us. So it is very, very much appreciated," Robredo told the panel. (SunStar Philippines)