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MANILA, Philippines – Voting 14-1, the Senate approved last night the P2.006-trillion budget for next year.
Senate finance committee chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon said next year’s budget is 10.5 percent higher than this year’s P1.816 trillion.
“There are no committee amendments. In fact, there are no major differences between the House and the Senate version,” Drilon said before the session yesterday.
Drilon said the bicameral meetings between the Senate and the House of Representatives will start next week.
“We expect to send the reconciled version of the general appropriations bill for 2013 and have it signed by the President before Christmas,” the senator said.
Drilon also downplayed insinuations by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago that the Congress has become the “rubber stamp” of Malacañang in terms of budget allocation. “The President enjoys very broad support. Our economy is doing very well. (The) third quarter GDP growth is 7.1 percent, the highest in the past decade. It means that the President deserves all the support from Congress,” Drilon added. Only Sen. Joker Arroyo voted against the measure, lamenting that “Congress has hopelessly lost its power of the purse.” Arroyo said he was constrained to vote against the 2013 GAA despite the fairness in the allocation of funds. “Over the years, every President seeks to enlarge his powers in the budget. And over the years every Congress feebly tries to rescind this executive encroachment but the legislature always loses out,” Arroyo said.
For the 2013 budget, Arroyo noted the President has more powers than in the 2012 budget. “By Congressional submission, the President’s power to impound appropriations rightfully due legislators remains intact. That is why legislators cannot go against the President,” Arroyo said. On the motion of Sen. Panfi lo Lacson, the Senate increased the budget of the Philippine National Police by P 20 million for the repair and construction of its camp in the Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (MIMAROPA) area. Prior to the approval, Drilon introduced individual amendments by senators, which were readily approved by the majority. The budget for the National Museum was increased from P556-million to P1.56079 billion on the request of the agency, as realigned from the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The Nueva Vizcaya State University’s P260 million also received a boost for upgrading of buildings and purchase of equipment.
The Office of Solicitor General (OSG), which initial budget was placed at P495 million, received an increase of P30 million for capacity building for lawyers and legal consultation. The OSG’s budget is now P525.8 million. The Bureau of Immigration’s budget was also increased from P565 million to P568 million, with additional funds to be used for purchase of fi ve passport reading machines. The DPWH’s budget was reduced by P500 million, which was realigned for the construction of the Museum of National History. The budget for the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) of P28.6 billion was increased by P120 million. The Anti-Money Laundering Council (ALMC) also got an increase. The budget of the Supreme Court and lower courts of P15.039 billion was increased by P1 billion to provide for the repair and rehabilitation of the various halls of justice. For the Court of Appeals, there was a realignment of P2 billion for the construction of new buildings in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro, to be augmented from savings. The Commission on Elections’ budget of P8 billion was increased by P500 million which can be sourced from within the agency budget to be used to purchase land and building for the warehouses of the PCOS machines. – With Marvin Sy

See the article here: Senate approves 2013 national budget – Philippine Star

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