THE House of Representatives transmitted to the Senate the approved copy of the P4.506-trillion 2021 General Appropriations Bill on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, one day ahead of the promised date.
This record-high budget is designed to further strengthen government response and stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Not only did we pass the proposed 2021 national budget in a timely, constitutional and legal manner, we also made sure next year’s spending plan will be more reflective and responsive to the needs of the people amid the worst public health crisis in a generation,” House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said in a statement.
“We increased the allocation for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines by more than three-fold to cover more Filipinos. We also provided extra allocation for the facilities enhancement program of the Department of Health to help improve the country’s health care system,” he added.
The House-approved version of the budget also has additional funding for the Department of Labor and Employment to assist workers displaced by Covid-19 and for the Department of Social Welfare and Development for another round of financial assistance to families affected by the pandemic.
The House approved the budget bill on final reading on October 16, 2020, the last day of a special session called by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Members of the lower chamber held marathon plenary sessions that sometimes lasted until the wee hours of dawn from October 13 to 16, after resolving the political intramurals over the speakership.
Nearly 200 members of the House ousted former speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and elected Velasco as speaker during a session held outside the halls of Congress on October 12, thwarting Cayetano’s attempt to hold on to the speakership.
Velasco took over the speakership on the basis of a term-sharing agreement he forged with Cayetano in July 2019. (SunStar Philippines from PR)