Press Release
December 5, 2007


The Senate expects to pass the P1.227-trillion national budget for 2008 next week, following three weeks of marathon deliberations, Senate President Manny Villar said.

This marks a record-setting achievement for the Upper Chamber in terms of the timeframe of the measure's passage.

The Senate President said, "The expected early passage of the budget reflects our commitment to have fiscal guidelines in place for 2008, as we seek to provide our citizens a meaningful program which addresses their needs."

"This likewise means we want the highest degree of accountability of public funds, specific allocations of which are stipulated in the new budget. It cuts a huge chunk of discretionary funds which a reenacted budget easily places in the hands of the executive," Villar said.

Since Nov. 26, the Senate has conducted morning and afternoon sessions, suspending a number of public hearings to be able to devote its time to the passage of the budget.

"Our hard work in ensuring the early passage of the budget should emphasize our call for the strictest accountability of every peso of government resources," the Senate President emphasized.

Villar stressed that the Senate committee on finance chaired by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile started public hearings on the budget as early as September and simultaneously with the House deliberations.

"We acknowledge the Senate committee on finance under the chairmanship of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile for the expeditious passage of the budget in the Senate," Villar said, "Not even an earthquake (on Nov. 27) could derail him from defending the measure on the floor," he added.

Under the appropriations measure, the allocation for education registers the highest growth at 15.1 percent, out of which at least 8,000 new classrooms will be built.

Villar said, "Education is one of the most potent weapons to reduce poverty in the country, and we expect that far-flung areas will become the beneficiaries of these new classrooms."

Likewise, the measure provides for a 3.6-billion budget for the Department of Science and Technology or a 1.1-billion increase in its allocation, recognizing that science and technology are the lynchpin of the country's economy.

The Senate President and Nacionalista Party president said a bicameral conference on the appropriations measure shall be immediately scheduled following the budget's passage.

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