By CNN Philippine Staff
The Senate on Monday passed on second and third readings the ₱3.757-trillion budget bill for 2019.
All 14 senators voted in favor of House Bill 8169 or the 2019 General Appropriations Bill.
The bill went through a number of amendments, including the removal of ₱75 billion in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). It was allegedly inserted by the Department of Budget and Management without the DPWH’s knowledge. The amount was distributed to a number of agencies.
Meanwhile, more than ₱16 billion was added to the health department’s budget to fund the equipping and accreditation of facilities under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program. Almost ₱2 billion was added to the Corrections Bureau’s budget for the construction of prison facilities in five regions to decongest jails.
The bill now goes to the conference committee which has to craft a common budget proposal for ratification by the Senate and House of Representatives. Congress targeted approval by early February.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said the upper house hopes to convene the bicameral conference committee on Tuesday. He said he hopes to ratify the committee report next week.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier said he expects a heated debate among lawmakers due to the differences in the Senate and House versions of the bill.
The House passed the bill in November last year.
The 2019 budget follows a cash-based system. This means agencies are required to spend their entire budget within a year. This is different from the previous system that allowed extended spending for up to two years.
CNN Philippines’ Correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.