The bicameral conference composed of members of both the House of Representatives and Senate ratified the proposed P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017 of the Duterte administration.
According to the chairman of the Senate committee on finance Sen. Loren Legarda, after ratification, the signed committee report on the budget will be presented to Pres. Duterte for signing. Legarda cleared that the budget was free from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Meanwhile, the senator described the budget as socially inclusive noting that it had provisions that benefited the poor. Higher allowances will be granted for inmates, hiring of more doctors and medical personnel, and more drug rehabilitation centers. An agreement between the two chambers was also made to allocate P8.3 billion to Commission on Higher Education (ChED) to finance free tuition for students in all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and additional funds for incentives and grants.
Other additional projects approved in the bicam are the P770 million for the additional P1,000 cash allowance for teachers; P1.2 billion for additional scholarship funds in SUCs; P100 million for the centenarian fund; P2 billion for irrigation fees subsidy; and P3 billion for the additional increase of PhilHealth subsidy, among others.