P1.816 Trillion budget approves by House for 2012

After weeks of extended committee work and nine days of marathon plenary sessions, the House of Representatives historically before midnight of Friday approved the proposed P1.816-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2012, a budget “grounded on the realities” of the national and global economy.

"We crafted this budget aware of both the potential and limits of our present national economy. This is a collective fulfillment of our commitment to the Filipino people," Speaker Feliciano Belmonte declared minutes before adjournment. 

The 2012 budget, Belmonte said was done "by legislators with eyes wide open to both the potential and threats that our economy might face in the coming year."

"It is a budget assembled with great pragmatism, and with as much foresight as is humanly possible," Belmonte pointed out, citing government's focus on instituting reforms to promote accountability and transparency in governance and a sustained war against poverty. 

Belmonte cited the fiscal consolidation initiatives embedded in the spending bill designed to narrow the fiscal deficit, reduce debt burden and increase revenues through collection efficiency.

"To fortify the fight against corruption, we have taken pains to ensure that public funds will no longer be diverted for unauthorized uses. As a first step, we approved the break-down of lump-sum funds totaling more than P150 billion and their allocation to regional and sub-regional offices. This will ensure accountability in their use," Belmonte stressed.

Never deviating from the constitutional mandate on resource appropriation, the Department of Education gets the biggest slice of P238.8 billion or 15.2% higher than the current budget of P207.3 billion, at second is the DPWH at P125.5-billion, followed by the Dept. of National Defense with P107.9 billion, then the DILG with P101.4 billion and the Department of Agriculture with P54.1 billion, among other agencies.

By sector, Social Services will get the bulk of the spending pie with P575.8 billion or 31.7% of the entire GAA. Economic Services is at second with P438.9 billion (24.2% of GAA) which shows the largest growth of 21.3%. Debt service comes at third with P356.1 billion (the debt burden is three (3) percentage points lower than 2011); General Public Service P332,1 billion and Defense at P113.1 billion. 

Of the proposed new general appropriations of P1.254 trillion, P1.092 trillion is the so-called programmed appropriations and P162 billion is unprogrammed or standby appropriations should additional or new revenues and project loans come in, while the total automatic appropriations amounts to P723.6 billion.

The House Speaker lauded the entire membership, citing Chairman Joseph Emilio Abaya and members of the sponsoring House Committee on Appropriations for their dedication and hard work, the six deputy Speakers (Reps. Raul Daza; Lorenzo Tañada III; Pablo Garcia; Arnulfo Fuentebella; Jesus Crispin Remulla; and Ma. Isabelle Climaco) who took turns in presiding over the plenary debates, and the Majority Leader, Rep. Neptali Gonzales, and his deputies who steered the back-breaking sessions judiciously.

Even as he expressed gratitude to the full support and cooperation of the majority coalition, Belmonte, likewise, cited the critical cooperation and the meaty discussions sparked by members of the opposition led by Minority Leader Edcel Lagman.