The Senate has passed on third reading the proposed 2016 national budget worth Php3.002 Trillion.
On Thursday night, Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and sponsor of the proposed budget, along with 13 other senators present on session voted to approve the budget on third and final reading following 3 whole days of deliberations.
“I thank my fellow senators for their support and cooperation in the timely approval of the budget,” said Legarda.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished, especially with the new allocations and provisions we introduced. For the first time, we are funding the pension of World War II veterans. We have also augmented the budget of state universities and colleges (SUCs) to ensure the continuous upgrade of our education system and we increased the budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) to support the implementation of the K-12 program,” she explained.
The Senate supported the House of Representatives’ allocation of Php4.773 Billion for the payment of the total administrative disability (TAD) pension for surviving spouses of deceased World War II veterans and partial payment for TAD pension for living post-war veterans who are at least 80 years of age as of 2016.
The 2016 DepEd budget worth Php411.48 Billion is more than 15% of its budget for 2015 because the implementation of the senior high school curriculum under the K-12 program begins next year. Thus, the budget includes allocation for construction of classrooms and hiring of additional teachers.
The Senate also increased allocation for SUCs, adding Php4.27 Billion, in support of our SUCs in their research programs and in building needed infrastructure. The total budget for SUCs is Php37.6 Billion.
Legarda also introduced provisions in the 2016 national budget that would ensure the integration of disaster and climate resilience, environmental and heritage conservation, and sustainability in the programs of various government agencies.
Critical public infrastructure must be designed and built to be resilient to earthquake, typhoon, flood and other extreme weather events. In retrofitting bridges and other public infrastructure, the government shall give priority to areas considered to be highly vulnerable to seismic activity.
Special provisions under the budgets for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) state that the two agencies must ensure that evacuation centers are built on safe sites and designed to withstand wind speed of three hundred (300) kilometers per hour and moderate seismic activity of at least 8.0 magnitude on the richter scale; utilize natural ventilation and rainwater through the inclusion of a rainwater catchment system; and include facilities for the special needs of women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) and such other physical provisions guaranteeing a humane condition for evacuees.
The budget includes funding for four (4) permanent evacuation centers or buildings per region in the country.
The DepEd and SUCs must integrate the following in their respective curricula: environmental protection and awareness, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and mitigation, indigenous knowledge systems pertaining to agriculture, environment and cultural heritage.
The DILG should embark on a massive information campaign for LGUs on the said issues; while the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in the conduct of family development sessions among beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, shall integrate in its program the protection of the environment, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation, including the preservation of the indigenous culture of their locality. The DSWD shall also conduct capacity building programs to prepare its beneficiaries for the onset of natural hazards.
The Senator also introduced a provision under the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which tasks the agency to allocate funds “for road sharing activities such as the promotion of non-motorized transport, construction of pedestrian-friendly facilities and conduct of programs and projects that are geared towards improving people mobility.”
The Senate and the House of Representatives are set to meet next week in a bicameral conference to reconcile the differences in their respective versions of the budget.**