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Senate ratifies P5.768T budget bill for 2024

THE Senate on Monday ratified the final version of the proposed P5.768-trillion 2024 national budget measure.

The senators ratified the 2024 General Appropriations Bill hours after the bicameral conference committee report reconciled the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the budget measure.

Sen. Juan Edgardo «Sonny» Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, sponsored the report and said the 2024 GAB contained a higher budget for the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Angara said Congress continues to support agencies that focus on national defense and security.

He said that the DND and the AFP will receive a P238.357 billion allocation for next year after they receive a P8.422 billion increase.

Angara said education remains «a top priority» in the government's expenditure plan for 2024.

«The increases made to our education agencies support ongoing efforts to make educational opportunities more available and accessible,» he said.

«We have also affirmed additional funds for our health sector through augmentations for DoH (Department of Health) budget items such as the Medical Assistance to Indigent and Financially-Incapacitated Patients Program and the Health Facilities Enhancement Program,» Angara said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino «Koko» Pimentel 3rd voted against the 2024 GAB as he questioned the increase of unprogrammed funds from P281.9 billion as proposed in the 2024 National Expenditures Program to P731.4 billion.

Angara said the bicameral conference also affirmed support for efforts to «enhance our self-reliance in agriculture not only to raise the incomes of our farmers and fisherfolk but also to ensure our food security.»

«We have affirmed the funds for programs of the Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies, such as for rice, corn, livestock, high-value crops development, soil health, fisheries, agricultural research and development, and buffer stocking,» he said.

Angara said the 2024 budget would «devote significant funds for infrastructure, for greater mobility through roads, bridges, railways and seaports.

It will also „cover efforts to protect the environment and