Health, education and social services are prioritized in the Senate committee report on the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget—Angara

Posted on: Mon, 11/11/2019 - 15:29 By: admin

Senator Sonny Angara praised his fellow senators for further raising the “compassion index” of the 2020 national budget by hiking allocations for social services.

The chair of the Senate finance committee gave the assurance that the amendments to education, health and social welfare programs in the P4.1 trillion spending bill are “targeted and transparent.”

He said there is “a bipartisan consensus” to increase funds for the repair of earthquake-damaged schools, school vouchers, free college, school feeding, help for indigent patients, and the deployment of nurses, doctors to poor areas, among others.

Angara said the “budgetary augmentations” were recommended by the vice chairpersons of the Senate’s budget-writing committee “upon the request of the departments.”

Upon the recommendation of Senators Pia Cayetano and Ralph Recto, DepEd’s budget was increased by P6.2 billion to prevent the dropping out of senior high school students studying in private schools using government vouchers, Angara said.

The amount will also bankroll the completion of the equipment, facility and teaching   needs of hard-to-reach “Last Mile Schools” and for the conservation of the heritage Gabaldon school buildings, the senator added.

For higher education, Angara said the Senate “has filled the large holes” in the CHED budget, by increasing the funds for the Student Financial Assistance Program by P8.5 billion.

The same amount is also added for next year’s implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, an Angara-authored bill.

Through the intervention of Sen. Joel Villanueva, research grants were raised to P116 million, distributed across the state universities and colleges and the UP System.

“Naglaan din tayo ng P167 million para magkaroon ng cash grants ang ating mga medical scholars sa mga SUCs,” Angara said.

In recognition of how technology has rapidly been integrated into all aspects of life, including in the historically-antiquated bureaucracy, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, through the efforts of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, was provided with an additional P4 billion for its programs such as the building of digital classrooms, workforce, workplace and communities and the free Wi-Fi in public spaces.

Other “boosted health expenditures,” Angara said, include the P9.439 billion fund to aid poor patients in both private and public hospitals.

To prevent the mass layoff of nurses, doctors, midwives and other health professionals deployed to “underdeveloped and unserved” areas, the Senate finance panel allotted P7 billion for their continued employment in 2020.

“We are also funding affordable but critical medical projects, like a 24-hour Mental Health Hotline to be manned by qualified health professionals,” he said.

Angara said the DSWD’s budget for its flagship Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will be P108.7 billion, “to comply with the recently passed law institutionalizing the program.”

He credited Sen. Imee Marcos for supporting the increase in the budget of the DSWD’s Supplementary Feeding Program from P3.6 billion to P6.6 billion to ensure children in pre-school, kindergarten and public day care centers are provided with hot meals, which is an advocacy of Sen. Grace Poe.

Angara said  "poverty amelioration" expenditures, in the form of subsidies and grants, are also included in the budget of other agencies such as the Department of Agriculture.