House OKs ₱5.268-T 2023 budget on final reading

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — The House of Representatives has approved the proposed ₱5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 on third and final reading.

A total of 289 lawmakers voted yes to House Bill No. 4488, or the 2023 General Appropriations Bill.

There were 3 negative votes and no abstentions.

The swift passage came two days after President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. certified the budget bill as urgent.

Marcos stressed the need to immediately pass the bill "in order to address the need to maintain continuous government operations following the end of the current fiscal year, strengthen efforts to respond more effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, and support initiatives towards national economic recovery."

It took the HOR barely six weeks to approve the GAB, from the time the Department of Budget and Management submitted the National Expenditure Program (NEP) on Aug. 22.

The proposed 2023 budget is 4.9% higher than this year's spending.

The following sectors are prioritized under the NEP:

- Education (₱852.8 billion)

- Infrastructure (₱1.196 trillion)

- Health (₱296.3 billion)

- Agriculture (₱184.1 billion)

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, however, criticized the allocations of the proposed 2023 spending.

"This national budget banners the theme 'Agenda for Prosperity' when in reality it is an 'Agenda for Austerity,' as funds for social safety nets and social services were drastically cut," said Brosas, one of the lawmakers who rejected the bill.

She even questioned why the government earmarked ₱429 billion for road networks when it only allocated ₱2.5 billion for housing.

Brosas also lambasted the ₱4.5 billion and ₱650 million confidential and intel funds under the President's and Vice President's offices, respectively.

"Hindi ito ang pambansang badyet na magbabangon sa kalidad ng buhay ng kababaihan at mamamayan sa yugtong lubog ang mga Pilipino sa kumunoy ng krisis, kahirapan at kagutuman," she said.

[Translation: This is not the national budget that will raise the quality of life of women and citizens at a time when Filipinos are mired in crisis, poverty, and hunger.]