Highlights of the Bicameral Conference Committee Report

On the Disagreeing Provisions on the 2019 General Appropriations Bill

Mr. President,

After exhaustive deliberation and consultations with the House counterpart, this representation as Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance is honored to present, for this body's approval, the highlights of the conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions on the 2019 General Appropriations Bill. Allow me to highlight the following provisions:

Congress: net increase of P1.775 Billion

The increase under Congress' budget will cover the additional operating requirements of the Senate and the Commission on Appointments, including funding for the construction of the new Senate building.

Office of the Vice President (OVP): net increase of P215.700 Million

The additional fund is for various social programs of the OVP intended to improve the life of the poor and for the special duty allowance of the security officers assigned to the Vice President. This will allow the security officers to receive the same special duty allowance given to the Presidential Security Group.

Department of Agriculture (DA): net decrease of (P2.046 Billion)

The Department of Agriculture will reflect a net cut due to reduction in the allocation for Farm-to-Market Roads under the Office of the Secretary and on the credit facilities of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council. The decrease on the said items will be partially offset by the P10 million provided for Young Farmers and P50 million for Livestock Production Program under DA-OSEC, and construction of fish landings, fisherman's wharf, and purchase of fishing gears under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The additional amount of P185 million is for the establishment Carabao Dairy Centers in various provinces under the Philippine Carabao Centers, to increase the dairy production and reduce dependency on imported milk. The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority is provided additional MOOE for the maintenance of its weaving centers.

Department of Education (DepEd): net increase of P2.521 Billion

Included in the DepEd budget is P800 million for the allowance of teachers to be given during the World Teachers' Day. Additional allocation for Quality Teacher and Development Program, Computerization Program, and Textbooks and Other Instructional Materials, and DepEd's School-based Feeding Program. The allocation for the latter will effectively fund RA 11037 which institutionalizes the national feeding program for undernourished children. All these items will account for the net increase in DepEd's budget.

The amount of P69.681 million is also provided for the various projects/programs of the National Museum while the Philippine High School for the Arts will also get an augmentation for capital outlays and MOOE. This will fund the initial cost of establishing a Philippine High School for the Arts in the Visayas and Mindanao.

State Universities and Colleges (SUCs): net increase of P2.813 Billion

We provided Capital Outlay to selected SUCs in the amount of P2.421 billion, including the University of the Philippines.

Department of Energy (DOE): net increase of P110.276 Million

The increase in the Department's budget is intended to augment their operating requirements of its Investment Promotion Unit.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR): net decrease of (P2.212 Billion)

The National Greening Program has been reduced by P2.5 billion. However, we have realigned the amount of P230.8 million to Mangrove Reforestation and Eco-tourism. In addition, funds were also provided for the pollution laboratories in Visayas and Mindanao under the Environmental Management Bureau.

Department of Finance (DOF): net increase of P200 Million

The amount will be for the initial requirement of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) building in Makati.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA): net decrease of (P6.855 Billion)

The significant reduction in the budget of the DFA is due to the cut on the SEA games budget and the transfer of the balance of P5 billion allocation for the SEA games from the DFA to the PSC. Funds were also provided for the opening of consular offices within the country, as well as embassies in Melbourne, Barcelona, Nagoya, Morocco, Stockholm, and Turkey, including augmentation of the operating requirements of selected embassies.

The Foreign Service Institute will also get additional allocation to fund its cultural programs and language capacity building of Foreign Service Personnel, giving priority for languages of countries where there is a large number of Overseas Filipino Workers and trade relationship. We are also providing for the modernization of its library.

Department of Health (DOH): net increase of P 21.523 Billion

Included in the budget is the restoration of P15.0 Billion for Health Facilities Enhancement Program and provision of P4.797 Billion to complete P7 Billion requirement for Human Resource for Health Development. Allocation for Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients has been likewise increased. We are also providing funds for cancer medicines to help cancer patients in coping with their costly treatment.

Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT): net increase of P 2.047 Billion

The increase in the DICT will be for the ICT Industry and countryside development -Rural Impact Sourcing, National Broadband and Cyber security under OSEC and augmentation for the operating requirements of National Telecommunications Commission.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG): net increase of P1.747 Billion

The increase will fund the construction of building for Emergency 911 Command Center under the OSEC. We are also augmenting the Philippine National Police's (PNP) MOOE to improve its delivery of services, which will include P59.839 million to provide the per capita cost of MOOE for additional policemen. Likewise, additional capital outlay for both the PNP and the Bureau of Fire Protection have been provided for the purchase of motor vehicles and firefighting equipment and fire trucks, respectively.

The Philippine Public Safety College will be provided funds to pay for its obligations, in accordance with the decision of the court.

Department of Justice (DOJ): net increase of P1.312 Billion

Augmentation in the DOJ's budget is for the creation of a special task force and victims' assistance program for OFWs, including programs geared toward child protection.

For the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the amount of P1 billion is also provided for the construction/repair/rehabilitation of prison facilities in Palawan, Davao, Leyte, Mandaluyong (NCR) and Zamboanga to decongest the existing prison facilities and to bring the prisoners near their families.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is provided additional funds for confidential expenses, procurement of equipment, and rental since NBI building has been condemned.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE): net increase of P2.612 Billion

The increase in the DOLE's budget shall be used for emergency repatriation of our OFWs, worker protection and welfare program, employment facilitation program and government internship program.

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) will receive additional funding for the implementation of the Continuing Professional Development and for Professional Regulation Program.

Department of National Defense (DND): net increase of P3.098 Billion

The Office of the Secretary will be provided P48.766 million for Task Force and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP) for the rebel/insurgent returnees.

Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (Proper) will have additional funding for veterans' hospitalization and medical care program.

Veterans Memorial Medical Center will get an additional funding for drugs and medicines, medical and surgical supplies, and hiring of job order workers while the Philippine Navy is provided fund for the establishment of a Maritime Command in Tawi-Tawi. Funds are also provided to support various activities of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP). Construction of 4-storey building has been provided for the General Headquarters. Similarly, additional allowance for CAFGU of P850 million and hiring of additional GAFGU companies are included in the Philippine Army's budget.

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH): net increase of P32.923 Billion

The net increase is due to the cut in the Right-of-Way (ROW) and Foreign-assisted projects which will be offset by the increase in local infrastructure projects.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST): net increase of P450.250 Million

The adjustment is for the DOST's Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) Program, grants-in-aid for SET-UP, and brick-making facility. We also increased the research fund by providing for the grants-in-aid for Disaster Preparedness, PhilMicrosat, Defense and Human Security, S and T Creative Industry and Tourism and Nutrigenomics.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD): net increase of P3.158 Billion

Additional funds for Protective Services and implementation of the enhanced program for children, families, indigenous peoples, and individuals in difficult situation have been provided. We also allocated funds for the cost of service of employees implementing the CCT Program in the amount of P1.646 billion. The amount of P1 billion for Bahay Pag-asa is provided under the Juvenile Justice Welfare Council (JJWC). This intends to address the needs of the children in conflict with the law.

Department of Tourism (DOT): net increase of P38 Million

The budget will include requirement for Puerta Real Evenings, documentation of marine biodiversity, and slow food show.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI): net decrease of (P1.561 Billion)

The increase of funds will be for Negosyo Centers and Shared Service Facilities (SSF) under OSEC and Cooperative Development Program under CDA. Increase is also reflected in the allocation for Technical Education and Skills Development Authority's (TESDA) Special Training for Employment Program and Training for Work Scholarship Program. However, Access to Quality Tertiary Education was cut since the amount allocated in 2018 budget for the same item is still available for 2019.

Department of Transportation (DOTr): net decrease of (P4.812 Billion)

Although additional funds were provided to selected airports and seaports, fly fees, purchase of helicopters, and lighted ocean buoys, DOTr will still reflect a decrease due to cuts imposed on the ROW allocation.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA): net increase of P164.067 Million

Funds were given for various research/studies to be undertaken by NEDA, including the preparation of various master plans of LGUs.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO: net increase of P38.710 Million

Funds were provided for the Davao and Presidential Photographers Division, and publication of the Rehabilitation of Boracay Island coffee table book.

Other Executive Offices: net increase of P8.112 Billion

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) increase in budget will fund Higher Education Development Program, Legal Education Board, Scholarship Program and realignment from Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education to K-to-12 Transition Program for new grantees under the Faculty Development.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is given additional funding for the various cultural activities of the agency.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines' (NHCP) additional funding will be used for restoration/ conservation of historical sites and construction of memorial on historical events and personages, including commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan's voyage to the Philippines.

The increase in the funds of National Archives of the Philippines (NAP) will be used for rent, training, digitization of archival documents, expansion of existing storage facilities, and other activities.

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and National Security Council (NSC) will receive additional intelligence/confidential funds.

Funds will be given to National Youth Commission (NYC) for its various activities such as Project HAPPY: HIV/AIDS Prevention Program for the Youth, International Youth Day, and FITFIL Youth Drug Prevention Program.

The Philippine Commission on Women's (PCW) increase in budget is for the gender mainstreaming in the ASEAN and for additional operating requirements.

For Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the increase will be for the operating expenses of PDEA satellite offices, seaport and airport interdiction unit and for the operating requirements of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drug (ICAD), and procurement of additional narcotics detection dogs, including provision for its maintenance and hiring of handlers.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will receive funding for the SEA games which was realigned from the DFA budget of P5 billion and for the training expenses of athletes participating in the SEA games.

The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) will receive funds for the purchase of equipment and representation outlay.

The Presidential Management Staff will have funds for the purchase of furniture.

Judiciary: net increase of P2.191 Billion

The Judiciary will receive additional funds for the following:

construction of the Cagayan De Oro Complex and halls of justice under the Supreme Court

construction of Sandiganbayan II building for the Sandiganbayan

initial funding for the construction of the Court of Appeals building

additional PS, MOOE, and CO for the entire Judiciary

Constitutional Offices: net increase of P2.886 Billion

The changes in Civil Service Commission (CSC) budget include realignment from Anti Red Tape Act (ARTA) implementation to Reactivation of the Philippine Civil Service Academy, and provision for additional capital outlay for buildings and motor vehicles.

For Commission on Audit (COA), funds will be given for the construction of Provincial Satellite Auditing Office (PSAO) buildings, and additional PS.

Commission on Elections (COMELEC) will receive an additional allocation for overseas Filipinos absentee voting and postage fees.

Additional funds will be given to the Office of the Ombudsman for its restructuring requirements which will include adjustments in PS, MOOE and CO.

Additional allocation will be given for various projects of Commission on Human Rights (CHR), including the development, implementation and maintenance of data protection measures.

Budgetary Support to Government Corporation: net decrease of (P1.781 Billion)

The additional allocation for National Dairy Authority (NDA) is for the purchase of breeding stock.

The net decrease in National Electrification Administration's (NEA) budget is due the provision for the lighting of schools and the reduction in the Quick Response Fund (QRF) and Sitio electrification.

The increase in the allocation of the four specialty hospitals-- Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC), Philippine Heart Center (PHC), Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), and National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) is for the medical assistance to indigent patients.

Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority's (TIEZA) additional funding is for the construction/development of plazas and tourism projects.

The increase in Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is for the promotion and participation package for members who will join in trade exposition to be held in various countries.

The increase under Other Executive Offices will go to a) Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB)-- for the construction of standard factory building; b) Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA)-- for the construction of commercial building; c) Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)-- allocation for its activities to bring CCP programs to the people and other activities; d) Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP)-- the additional allocation will allow DAP to expand its training programs to include LGUs and the Legislative Department; e) National Housing Authority (NHA)-- for housing projects; and f) Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)-- for construction of Magsaysay Bridge. However, the allocation for the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) was reduced.

Special Purpose Funds: net decrease of (P70.670 Billion)

Allocations to Local Government Units (ALGU) will reflect a reduction of P7.227 billion due to the cut on the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF).

The Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund was reduced due to the realignment of funds to DOH and DSWD to cover the cost of service of job orders, and the cut that was imposed.

We provided P1,486,539,000 for the implementation of NBC 461 (Cycle 7), which intends to fund a half-year implementation of the system of evaluation and promotion of SUC faculty members, which will effectively increases their compensation

The increase of the GAB over the NEP of the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management (NDRRM) Fund was cut.

We reduced the amount of the Pension and Gratuity Fund based on the utilization in the previous year, to the level which we believe could be utilized.

Unprogrammed Fund

We reflected realignments within the Unprogrammed fund to provide for a) Rice Competiveness Enhancement Fund of P10 Billion; b) Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Fund of P10 Billion; c) Implementation of the Universal Health Care, P18 Billion; and d) Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao, P30 Billion.

Moreover, the following are the highlights of the special and general provision:

a. We included a provision prohibiting the Bureau of Immigration in issuing temporary work permit to foreigners unless they present an alien employment permit or a similar certification coming from the DOLE.

A corresponding provision was also introduced in the DOLE which requires that before a certification shall be issued, the DOLE shall determine the non-availability of a person in the Philippines who is competent, able and willing at the time of application to perform the services for which the alien desires to work.

b. A special provision in the DILG which institutionalizes a more holistic approach in local development planning. It requires a comprehensive consultation among the stakeholders and various LGU councils to be able to come up with plans that are responsive to existing and emerging challenges as well as formulate joint strategies to address such challenges.

c. A special provision which requires DepEd to provide, implement, and monitor a mental health policy for students in accordance with RA 11036 or the Mental Health Act. It also requires a pool of registered guidance counselors to train guidance designates and peer facilitators within a specific administrative division of DepEd.

d. We have also included in the special provision for Health Facilities Enhancement Program the provision that, in its implementation, it must consider the requirement of a mother-baby friendly health facilities in compliance with the provision of RA 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-nanay Act.

The provision can be found on the Allocation to Local Government Units

e. Included under the DOT's special provision is a provision adopting the DOTr department order which provides that refurbished and/or rebuilt public utility vehicles shall be allowed to continue their routes provided that it complies with the DO No. 2017-11

f. Provision on the fare discount under the TRAIN Law was reiterated under the DOTr's special provision.

g. Prohibition on the collection of fees in relation to retention or reacquisition of Philippine citizenship is again reintroduced in the General Provision.

h. The General Provisions also includes a provision clarifying that the Block Grant to the Bangsamoro Government shall be automatically appropriated pursuant to RA No. 11054

i. The special provision on the Support to Foreign Assisted Project under the Unprogrammed Fund was amended limiting the use of the Foreign Assisted Project to the project enumerated in the special provision.

j. A provision prohibiting the use of unprogrammed funds for any project intended for public video surveillance and communication system that will involve risk in the country's national security.

k. Provision on disaster resiliency, climate adaptation, disaster preparedness were also included in the special and general provisions.

These are just some of the programs that we have provided for under the 2019 budget. May I take this time to express my appreciation for the technical staff of the LBRMO for their patience and hard work, and for sheer dedication to see the legislative process through.

Thank you as well to my Vice Chairs, and the rest of the Finance Committee members for likewise giving their inputs and recommendations to make sure that we pass a budget that is pro-poor, pro-sustainable development, inclusive and pro- Filipino.

In closing, Mr. President, rest assured that this year's budget continues to put in its core what is essential: the basic needs of our people and our nation.

Thank you very much.

Source: Senate of the Philippines