House may realign funding slashed from 3 agencies to state schools

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 14 2017 02:01 PM

MANILA- The House of Representatives may realign funding slashed from three government agencies to support the implementation of the free tertiary education law. 

House Appropriations Committee Chair Karlo Nograles on Thursday said lawmakers may realign the budgets originally meant for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to subsidize tuition in state universities and colleges.

“Maaaring ilalagay sa higher education kasi 'yun ang hinahanapan natin ng pondo… kasi naghahanap kami ng pondo para sa implementasyon ng free higher education law. These are budget cuts, these will go to free higher education," he said in a phone interview. 

The House had slashed proposed funding for the three agencies to P1,000 each, citing their alleged failure to fulfill their respective mandates.

The agencies had the following original allocations: P623.38 million for the CHR; P365 million for the ERC; and P1.132 billion for the NCIP.

The massive cut would free up some P2.1 billion, if upheld in the final approved national budget. The proposed slash will undergo deliberations at the Senate and the bicameral conference committee. 

The government needs P20 billion to implement the free tuition law next year and cover some 1 million students in state-run colleges and universities, per estimates of the Commission on Higher Education.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law last month despite the reluctance of some members of his economic team given the cost its implementation would entail. 

A portion of the budget of other agencies may also be realigned to support the free college tuition law, Nograles said. Among these agencies are the Department of Transportation, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the Department of Education.

Nograles also allayed concerns over budget cuts in the CHR, ERC and the NCIP, saying they can always seek augmentation from the budget department.

“If they need additional or augmentation sa kanilang budget, they’ll have to pass and ask for it from DBM (Department of Budget and Management),” he said.