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Philippines: Senate Approves P1.6 Trillion 2011 Budget; CCT Allocation Intact
Source: balita.ph
Source Date: Thursday, December 02, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: Philippines
Created: Dec 06, 2010

MANILA, Dec. 1 (PNA) – The Senate approved on third and final reading on Wednesday night the 2011 national budget of P1.645 trillion without cut, including the P21 billion allocation for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program and the controversial budget for the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

With 12-2 vote, the national budget for next year has been approved after a two-hour caucus where amendments have been introduced and set to be read into the record on Friday.

”We just approved both the totals so that we can now go to the bicameral conference. We will now prepare the budget with the figure as approved by the caucus and then we will start immediately the bicam so that we can beat the deadline,” Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said.

The bicameral committee conference has been set on Monday, hoping to approve the national budget into law before Congress takes a one-month Christmas break beginning on December 17.

Drilon said the approved total new appropriations was P1,000,387,764 which is the same amount which the House of Representatives approved through House Bill 3101.

”We have approved the budget as submitted by the President and approved by the House,” Drilon said.

Despite a letter from Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago urging Drilon to cut down the CCT budget by P6 billion, Drilon said the 100 percent increase from the current P10 billion would remain as introduced by the Department of Social Welfare and Develoment (DSWD).

”We went through a seven-hour interpellation last night on the budget of the DSWD and I think we have sufficiently explained to our colleagues this CCT budget,” Drilon said.

Drilon also explained that the maintenance and operating expense of the SUCs will be maintained, saying only the P1.7 congressional insertion which was vetoed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will not be brought back.

”They will not suffer any cuts,” Drilon assured in the face of series of protests of the students from different SUCs in Metro Manila.

The Department of Education has the highest allocation of P231.68 billion, including the P23.4 billion budget for the SUCs, while the Department of Public Works and Highways is next with P110.63 billion, followed by the Department of National Defense with P104.67 billion.

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and his sister Senator Pia Cayetano were the two present senators who voted against the approval of the national budget.

Cayetano said Senator Joker Arroyo, another member of the minority bloc, was also against the approval of the Senate recommended national budget.

Arroyo, who was not present during the voting, specifically opposed the reduction of the appropriation for the DPWH.

”The appropriation for DPWH has been considerably reduced. That means that for 2011, there would be no appropriation for new and much needed roads or infrastructure which the country needs very badly for our development,” Arroyo said in his own turno en contra speech.

Arroyo also called the government’s reform budget as "stagnation budget" due to lack of tools for the growth.
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