HOUSE of Representatives (HRep) Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Saturday formally turned over to the Senate represented by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri the copy of House Bill 8980 or the 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
The GAB, which provides for a P5.768-trillion national budget for fiscal year 2024, as approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives last month. Speaker Romualdez said the bill contains P194.5-billion in realigned funds, meticulously designated “to fortify the country’s national security, shield Filipinos from the impacts of global inflation, and guarantee food security… We have incorporated significant institutional and individual amendments to offer both immediate respite and enduring solutions to these challenges. The escalating costs of living weigh heavily on our fellow Filipinos, and we, in the House, recognize our mandate to address these concerns swiftly and effectively,” he said.
Speaker Romualdez also highlighted how the HRep honored the Supreme Court’s directive, instituting reforms to categorically abolish the pork barrel system and uphold the principles of transparency, accountability, and exemplary governance. “Our reforms echo our unwavering commitment to serving our people with utmost integrity.”
He expressed profound appreciation to the diligent members of the House, as well as to Senate President Zubiri and the entire Senate. “Your unwavering collaboration has been invaluable. Senate President Zubiri, as we entrust this pivotal document to you, I express my genuine gratitude for the Senate’s continuous partnership in our shared vision of nation-building,” he said.
Senate President Zubiri thanked House Members for their swift action on the GAB. He said they hope to approve the GAB on second and third reading on or before November 27 at the closing of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians’ Forum (APPF). “With this turnover our hardworking Senate Committee on Finance Senator Sonny Angara will be able to sponsor the Committee Report in the Senate by this week. As it is the tradition in the Senate, every budget season we foresee long hours of debates on the floor but we also expect to be true to our timeline. We assure you that we are prepared to commit long hours throughout the next few weeks to scrutinize the budget ensuring that we will be able to approve it on second and third reading on November 27, upon the close of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum,” he said.
Present during the turnover were Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Sen. Joel Villanueva, Deputy Majority Leader Sen. JV Ejercito, and Senate Committee on Accounts, Chairperson Sen. Nancy Binay, Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, Jr., Majority Floor Leader Rep. Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe, Committee on Appropriations Chairperson Rep. Elizady Co (Party-list, AKO BICOL), and Appropriations Committee Vice Chairperson Rep. David “Jay-Jay” Suarez (2nd District, Quezon).