Senate ends plenary debates; eyes approval of 2016 GAB on Thursday

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Nov. 25 (PNA) – The Senate on Wednesday night finished as scheduled the three-day period of interpellation on the proposed Php3.002-trillion national budget for 2016.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate would try to approve on second and third reading the Senate version of the 2016 General Appropriation Bill (GAB) on Thursday.

”We expect to approve it on second and third reading tomorrow,” Drilon said even as he appealed to his colleagues to be present on Thursday.

Under the GAB’s Senate version, some Php7.6 billion had been realigned, including the Php800-million quick respond fund (QRF) lodged under the budget of the Department of Transportation of Communications (DOTC).

Senate finance committee chairperson Loren Legarda said her panel transferred fund to the QRF of the different agencies, particularly the Department of National Defense (DND) and Department of Health (DOH) that received Php250 million each.

Among the major departments, the Department of Education will get the highest budget allocation amounting to Php411.6 billion, followed by Public Works and Highway with Php378.545 billion; Health (Php124.27 billion); Interior and Local Government (Php123.8 billion); National Defense (Php116.25 billion); and Social Welfare and Development (Php109 billion).

In the period of amendment set also on Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile is expected to augment the DND’s budget by at least Php20 billion to improve the defense capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Enrile also pushed for increase on the budget of the Office of the Vice President from only Php230.5 million to Php500 million. (PNA)