MANILA, Philippines — On its third and final reading on Wednesday, the Senate passed its version of the proposed ₱5.268 trillion national budget for 2023 with 21 votes in favor and none opposed.
The proposed budget for next year is ₱5,024 trillion, 4.9% higher than this year’s budget. It will focus on education, infrastructure, health, agriculture, and social protection. It will be given to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for signature once it has been approved by the bicameral committee.
Meanwhile, the confidential and intelligence funding of several agencies totaling ₱152.668 million has been reallocated, according to Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Sonny Angara.
One of these is the transfer of ₱100 million in confidential funds from the Vice President Sara Duterte-led Department of Education (DepEd) to pay for the operational costs of the Office of the Vice President (OVP).
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, however, criticized the DepEd’s request stating that there were “no extraordinarily compelling reasons” for such a request. Hontiveroz also pushed for the realignment of the remaining P50 million confidential funds of the DepEd to the agency’s Health Learners Institution Program.
Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Sonny Angara has accepted Hontiveros’ proposal. However, Angara proposed cutting the remaining ₱50 million in DepEd confidential funds to ₱30 million and reallocating the remaining ₱20 million to the program mentioned by Sen. Risa instead.
The following confidential funds were also realigned to Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) in the national budget for 2023:
- ₱5 million in the Department of Foreign Affairs
- ₱19.2 million in the Department of Justice
- ₱2 million in the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
- ₱6 million in other executive offices
- ₱20 million in Office of the Ombudsman
The funding, however, will remain with their respective agencies, according to Angara. “All within the agency because we did not want to deprive the agencies of their budget but placed under maintenance and other operating expenses,” Angara said.