The House of Representatives on Saturday turned over to the Senate the approved PHP5.768 trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2024.
The amended measure includes PHP194.5 billion in realigned funds to boost national security, protect Filipinos from global inflation, and ensure food security.
In a short message, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez thanked all members of the House for the exhaustive and transparent budget proceedings that led to the approval of the appropriations bill.
'I am proud of the finished product that we are now handing over formally to the Senate. The House of the People remained steadfast in its commitment to timely, transparent budgeting, free from the shadows of pork barrel. We meticulously scrutinized every peso, ensuring that it serves the welfare and aspirations of the nation and our people," Romualdez said.
He noted that the 2024 budget was meticulously reviewed to address the pressing concerns of ordinary Filipinos, especially in these trying times of global inflation and the escalating prices of basic commodities.
'The House has made significant institutional and individual amendments to provide immediate relief and long-term solutions for this particular problem,' he said.
"The rising costs have undeniably affected our fellow Filipinos. It is our duty to respond promptly and effectively. With the amendments we've incorporated, we aim to alleviate the burden on every household and ensure that basic needs remain accessible and affordable."
In line with the Supreme Court ruling, Romualdez said reforms have been instituted to ensure the complete abolition of the pork barrel system.
'The House remains firm in its commitment to uphold transparency, accountability, and good governance. We have taken stringent measures to ensure that every peso is allocated judiciously and in accordance with the law,' he said. 'Our reforms stand as a testament to our unwavering dedication to serve the Filipino people with integrity."
Romualdez extended his appreciation to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and the entire Senate for their continued partnership in ensuring the betterment of the nation.
'Our joint responsibility is to ensure this budget genuinely represents the hopes and needs of our citizens. As we advance in our legislative journey, I appeal for everyone's continued engagement and oversight. Let's join forces, with shared goals and determination, for the prosperity of our cherished homeland,' he said.
The House approved the 2024 GAB on Sept. 27 with a 296-3 vote and no abstentions.
The social services sector (health, education, culture and manpower development, social security, welfare and employment) will receive the largest allocation of PHP2.183 trillion, or 37.9 percent of the total proposed national budget, under the House version. It represents an increase of PHP178.7 billion, or 8.9 percent, from the 2023 budget.
Source: Philippines News Agency