MEMBERS of the House of Representatives were given until tomorrow to submit their amendments to the proposed 2020 national budget amounting to P4.1 trillion.
In his speech after the passage of the budget measure, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said he wanted to give lawmakers the freedom to propose amendments even though the General Appropriations Bill or House Bill 4228 was already approved on third and final reading.
“I enjoin our colleagues to submit your amendments and as we are gracious enough to talk to Secretaries about concerns regarding our districts, yet as policy questions, I ask you now today, to also file your version of institutional amendments,” Cayetano said.
The Speaker particularly proposed allocating more funds for the procurement of unmilled rice (palay) in order to help the farmers who are now suffering from the entry of cheaper imported rice under the Rice Tarrification Law.
According to Cayetano, he was told by chairman of the appropriations committee Isidro Ungab that he has identifyied the source of the funds palay procurement.
Cayetano had wanted to increase the P7 billion budget for palay procurement to more than P10 billion.
“So far, there seems to be a consensus that we should add to the 7-billion peso fund to buy palay to help our farmers. Sid Ungab has already found P3 billion to add to P10 but we would like to go higher than 10 billion. But yung pandagdag ng pambili ng palay ay balewala din kung hindi kumprehensibo ang ating approach sa family size farming and making this type of farming and agrarian reform effective in our country,” Cayetano stressed.
The House leaders also wanted adjustments in the budget for education, health and even electrification.
“Education and health need much more fund and fine-tuning of their programs. Electrifcation, ilang taon na natin naririning yung 100 percent na electrification ng buong Pilipinas. Ilang taon na rin tayong nakukuryente. So please submit your amendments regarding 100 percent electrification of our country,” he added.
Following the approval, the House of Representatives will form a six-man team whose main purpose is to review carefully the possible amendments. These amendments will be discussed during the bicameral conference committee.
Among the critical programs of the Duterte administration are measures to implement new laws and policies that provide socio-economic assistance to all Filipinos and enhance security of the nation, such as the following: (1) full implementation of the Universal Health Care Act; (2) institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; (3) smooth transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; (4) implementation of the liberalization of rice importation; (5) creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development; and (6) National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.