The House of Representatives has realigned the biggest amount of budget increase to the Department of Agriculture (DA) with P64.5 billion under its approved version of the proposed P5.768 trillion budget for 2024.

Based on the list of amendments released by the office of Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte, the P64.5 billion increase to the DA budget is broken down to:

  • frican swine fever vaccines (P1.5 billion)
  • Rice subsidy for agri business and marketing services (P20 billion)
  • Solar-driven pump irrigation (P15 billion)
  • National irrigation system/communal irrigation system (NIS/CIS)(P25 billion)
  • Massive planting/replanting program purchase of coconut seednuts and fertilization (P2 billion)
  • Construction of fishery and post harvest facilities in Palawan and Kalayaan Group of Islands (P1 billion)

The Health Department ranked second in terms of increases with P43.9 billion for the following purposes:

  • Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (MAIP) (P30.3 billion)
  • specialty hospitals (P2 billion)
  • legacy hospitals (P8.6 billion)
  • Cancer Assistance Program (P500 million)
  • Communicable Diseases (P1.5 billion)
  • Health Facilities Enhancement Program- Equipment (P1 billion)

Another P1 billion was also earmarked for MAIP for UP-Philippine General Hospital.

The House also allotted P960 million for the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) purchase of maritime and patrol cars.

The Labor Department, for its part, got P27.9 billion budget broken down to Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers/Government Internship Program (TUPAD/GIP) and P10.4 million for Training for Work Scholarship (TWSP).

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been granted an additional P33 billion for its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation Program (AICS) and another P2 billion for the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) for a total of P35.2 billion increase.

The airport development/expansion of Pag-Asa Island Airport got P2.65 billion, while the Tertiary Education Subsidy and Tulong Dunong programs got P8.5 billion and P8.6 billion augmentation, respectively.

The rest of the P1.2 billion realigned confidential funds were redistributed to agencies directly mandated to protect national security.

Speaker Romualdez, in a statement after the ceremonial turnover of the House version of the proposed 2024 budget to their Senate counterparts, assured the public that the House version of the budget measure is responsive to the public’s needs.

“The House of Representatives is honored to hand over to the Senate the 2024 General Appropriations Bill. This bill, approved by our chamber, encompasses P194.5-billion in realigned funds, meticulously designated to fortify our national security, shield Filipinos from the impacts of global inflation, and guarantee food security,” Romualdez said.

“The House of the People has been unwavering in its dedication to timely, transparent budgeting, completely devoid of the blemishes of pork barrel. In these challenging times, where global inflation and surging prices of essential goods test our resilience, the 2024 budget stands as our response to the urgent needs of ordinary Filipinos,” Romualdez added.

In closing, Romualdez called for sustained involvement and vigilance moving forward.

“Let us ensure the flourishing of our beloved Philippines,” he added. —VAL, GMA Integrated News