Representative Tinio of Act-Teachers said he voted no to the appropriations because it “continues the decades’ long trend of prioritizing debt servicing over education, health and sanitation and other social services.”
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Monday approved in the third and final reading House Bill 6455 or the 2013 General Appropriations Bill, but solons belonging to the progressive bloc registered their opposition, calling it unresponsive to the needs of the people especially the poor and the marginalized.
A total of 195 members of the lower house voted for the budget bill while six posted their negative votes.
Those who opposed the bill were party-list representatives Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna, Emmie de Jesus and Luz Ilagan of Gabriela, Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Antonio Tinio of Act Teachers and Orlando Fua of Siquijor.
After its approval, the bill would be transmitted to the Senate for further deliberation and approval. The two chambers will then assemble through a bicameral conference committee where the final version of the 2013 appropriations will be discussed.
Representative Tinio of Act-Teachers said he voted no to the appropriations because it “continues the decades’ long trend of prioritizing debt servicing over education, health and sanitation and other social services”.
The solon said a total of PHP 360.4 billion is allocated to the debt burden, comprising 17.9 percent of the PHP 2.006 trillion proposed budget, much larger compared to the combined budget for education and health.
“Even the Department of Education (DepEd) budget, which has the biggest budget among all line agencies at 292 billion pesos, will not be able to provide for the needs, particularly of K to 12, which is touted as the banner education reform program of this administration,” he said.
Tinio noted that a mere PHP 1.6 billion is allocated for the universal kindergarten program, which means that the DepEd will continue to employ over 23,900 volunteer kindergarten teachers with a monthly pay of only PHP 3,000 to PHP 6,000 per month.
Bayan Muna‘s Casiño said the budget bill is a manifestation that the government has shortchanged the people. He said it remains unresponsive to the needs of the constituency, especially the poor and the marginalized.
In a statement posted in its website, Kabataan Party-list Representative Raymond Palatino said election fever “pervaded even the pages of one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress passes annually — the General Appropriations Bill.”
Palatino called the 2013 budget bill as the height of President Benigno Aquino III’s deception. “The budget is loaded with more pork (barrel), dole-outs, and fat bonuses. It would even more appropriate to call it an ‘election budget’ which will benefit PNoy’s coterie of political butterflies, especially those in the ruling Liberal party,” the youth solon added.
Aquino earlier branded the PHP 3 trillion budget as an “empowerment budget” that will benefit the people, supposedly targeting the poor and the marginalized. Yet Joseph Emilio Abaya, Cavite congressman and chairperson of the Lower House appropriations Committee, said that the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund — also known as the pork barrel — is intact. Congressmen will each receive PHP 70 million each while senators will each receive PHP 200 million in the 2013 budget. (Alex D. Lopez,davaotoday.com)General Appropriations Act, National Budget, World