Belmonte confident House of Representatives to pass 2016 budget before midnight

MANILA, Oct. 9 (PNA) — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Friday said he is confident the House of Representatives can pass the Php3.002 trillion General Appropriations Bill before midnight.

This, after President Benigno Aquino III has certified the measure as urgent.

Belmonte said with the latest development, they can finish the job and pass it to third and final reading so they can transmit it to Senate.

Belmonte tasked House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, who chairs the House committee on rules, to include in the Order of Business theletter of Executive Sec. Paquito Ochoa dated October 1transmitting the letter of certification of President Aquino to approve House Bill 6132 or the proposed 2016 budget of Php3.002 trillion.

“I am hereby transmitting for the immediate inclusion in the Order of Business the letter of Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr., Office of the President, transmitting the letter of His Excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino III, certifying to the necessity of the immediate enactment of House Bill 6132,” Belmonte said in his letter to Gonzales.

In his letter to Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon, President Aquino underscored the importance for Congress to immediately approve the national budget, adding his certification to the budget bill is in pursuant to the provision of Article VI, Section 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution.

“In order to address the need to maintain continuous government operations following the end of the current fiscal year to expedite the funding of various programs, projects and activities for FY 2016, and to ensure budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its constitutional mandate,” President Aquino said in his letter dated October 1.

Last week, Gonzales said the possible absence of quorum when Congress resumes session in November 3 has prompted the House leadership to request President Aquino to certify the proposed national budget next year as urgent measure and approve it on third and final reading today (Friday).

Congress will go on three-week Halloween break starting this Saturday to give way to the filing of certificates of candidacy (CoC) from October 12 to 16.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, who chairs the House committee on Appropriations, said the proposed national budget for 2016 – which is 15.2 percent higher than the Php2.606 trillion 2015 national budget – is the Aquino administration’s blueprint for greater inclusive growth andreform expansion in the country.

Based on allocation by sector, social services will have the biggest budget allocation of Php1.1059 trillion, which is 36.8 percent of the proposed budget. It covers education, healthcare, housing and social welfare and employment.

Economic services took the second largest budget allocation with Php829.6 billion, which is 27.64 percent of the proposed budget.

Transport and communications infrastructure will get the bulk of this budget. General Public Services will get Php517.9 billion, debt burden Php419.3 billion, and interest payment Php392.8 billion.

Lastly, defense will get Php129.1 billion. This allocation will fund the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization in light of the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

By department allocation, the top 10 departments are: Department of Education (DepEd) Php435.9 billion; Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Php394.5 billion; Department of National Defense (DND) Php172.7 billion; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)P154.5 billion; Department of Health Php128.4 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Develpopment (DSWD) Php104.2 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA) Php93.4 billion; Department of Finance (DOF) Php55.3 billion; Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Php49.3 billion; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Php25.8 billion; and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Php18.6 billion.(PNA)