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2017 nat’l budget bill set for 2nd reading OK

The House of Representatives will vote on President Duterte’s first national budget on third and final reading next month.

House Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas said they are dead set in passing the proposed 2017 P3.35-trillion General Appropriations Bill by November 9.

He maintained that the proposed GAB “will be approved on second reading on Wednesday, subject to the amendments that will be submitted by the members for consideration of the small committee created for that purpose.”

“After which, the bill shall be printed (taking about two weeks), and will give be distributed to the members during the break. It will give everyone more than sufficient time to review it before we vote on third and final reading on November 9,” he said.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, expressed hope that their colleagues would heed his call to immediately pass the pro-people’s budget.

“Hopefully by Wednesday, we are going to approve the national budget on second reading,” he said.

The House will be on weeks-long Halloween break from October 19 to November 6 and will resume session on November 7.

Nograles expressed confidence that the spending measure will finally hurdle the House after they resume session.

“This will be passed on third and final reading after our Halloween break,” he said, as he assured that marathon plenary discussions on the national budget will resume today, October 3.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations who defended the P21.3-billion budget of the Department of Finance and its attached agencies for next year, expressed the Duterte government’s commitment to implement programs that would lift 10 million Filipinos out of poverty and transform the Philippines into an upper middle-income country by 2022.

He cited as crucial the DoF budget in helping the government achieve its long-term goal of eradicating extreme poverty in one generation or by 2040 and making the Philippines a high-income country by that time.

“If government were a business, investing in the Department of Finance is like investing in a revenue center that allows this business to pursue its objectives and value-adding activities. The DoF is tasked with the difficult role of generating revenues, managing debt and government corporations, and managing assets, in order to fund critical social services,” Villafuerte said.

Nograles noted that the proposed national budget for 2017 “heavily invests” on the attainment of peace and order in the country.

In defending House Bill 3408 or the P3.35-billion GAB, the Davao City solon noted that under the 2017 budget, P206.6 billion will be allocated for public order and safety, which is 19.3 percent higher than the 2016 level of P173.3 billion. (Charissa M. Luci)