House approves 2024 budget on final reading

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 27) — The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the proposed 2024 national budget amounting to ₱5.768 trillion, but details of its plan to realign confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) of some agencies have yet to be finalized.

House Bill 8980 or the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2024 hurdled the House with 296 affirmative votes. All three members of the Makabayan bloc voted against the measure.

No amendments were introduced in the plenary.

The bill was earlier certified by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as "urgent," citing the necessity to maintain continuous government operations after the end of the fiscal year.

Marcos said there is a need to "expedite the funding of various programs, projects, and activities for FY 2024" and "ensure budgetary preparedness that will enable the government to effectively perform its constitutional mandate."

The lower chamber started the deliberations on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) in August. The proposed budget is 9.5% higher than the ₱5.268 trillion spending plan in 2023.

Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier said the swift passage of the proposed 2024 NEP would allow Marcos to enact it by December.

Citing the precedent set in previous Congresses, Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias Agabas moved for the creation of a four-member committee to receive and resolve all proposed amendments to the government spending plan prior to HB 8980's approval on second reading.

The panel will be led by House Appropriations Committee Chairman and Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co. Its members are Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, and House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan.

Lawmakers may submit their proposed amendments to the committee until Friday, Sept 29.

The approval came amid the controversy surrounding the confidential funds allocation of the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, both headed by Sara Duterte, pegged at ₱650 million.

It was recently found out that the OVP spent ₱125 million confidential funds in 11 days.

Co on Wednesday said Duterte's proposed confidential funds will be reduced and reallocated to security and intelligence agencies tasked to counter threats in the West Philippine Sea.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who consistently raised the issue of CIF in the week-long plenary debates on the proposed budget, voted in favor of HB 8980 but "with reservations."

The House session was adjourned at 10:39 p.m. and will resume on Nov. 6.

CNN Philippines correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.