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People’s wellbeing first

It’s about putting people first.

Indeed, nothing takes primacy than the people’s welfare.

All other items on the congressional agenda are secondary.

And this priority is embodied in the recently passed national budget.

The leadership of the House of Representatives has assured that “necessary adjustments and sacrifices” were made in the proposed 2021 national budget to ensure sufficient funding for coronavirus disease vaccination and social amelioration programs.

“We have made all the requisite adjustments, congressmen have made all the sacrifices to prioritize the vital needs of the nation, in terms of medical concerns like vaccines and social amelioration program. We are one with the President (Rodrigo Duterte) and one with you and the nation to defeat this Covid pandemic and help us recover economically,” Majority Leader Martin Romualdez told reporters in a news forum.

Romualdez also promised that the chamber under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has been working hard to pass vital legislations to help the country recover from the blows of the Covid-19.

“The Speaker is very focused on this and he is providing the efficiencies and better performance of this Congress,” he said. “We are very confident that with the able and steady hands of the Speaker and the unified leadership, we shall achieve these goals and reach our destination to full recovery and back to prosperity in 2021.”

On Monday, the House approved on final reading a measure extending the availability of funds under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 until June 30, 2021.

Velasco said the House will set aside P50 million of its internal funds for the Covid-19 vaccination of its employees and members of the House media, including up to five immediate family members.

Earlier, Romualdez lauded his colleagues led by Velasco for working very hard in ensuring the swift ratification of the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget.

Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules and President of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, said the General Appropriations Bill is designed to aid President Duterte’s programs to address the turbulence caused by coronavirus disease-19 pandemic.

“We acted with dispatch according to the desire of the President to help the economy weather the ill-effects of pandemic. I thank Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and my colleagues for performing under pressure just to ensure the immediate ratification of next year’s national budget,” he said.

It was Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association, who moved for the ratification of the fiscal measure.

Ako Bisaya party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon commended the leadership tandem of Velasco and Romualdez behind the swift ratification of the national budget and passing the priority measures of the President.

Lagon credited his colleagues for ensuring funds under the 2021 national budget for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines, allocating assistance to low-income families and improvement of health facilities.

ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, assured that the enrolled copy of the 2021 national budget would be sent to Malacañang and would be available for Duterte’s signature before Christmas.

According to Yap, the bicameral conference committee approved several changes introduced by the House.

These include additional funding of P44.8 billion for the “Build, Build, Build” program under the Department of Public Works and Highways; and P2 billion for the procurement of personal protective equipment or PPE, P434.4 million for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program, P462 million for the Medical Health Assistance Program, and P100 million for mental health program, all under the Department of Health.