The Senate on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the PHP3.35 trillion national budget for 2017, first under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
After ratification, the 2017 national budget also known as the General Appropriations Act (GAA), will be sent to President Duterte for signing.
Seventeen senators voted to pass the measure, two voted against it -- Senators Panfilo Ping" Lacson and Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian, and one abstained -- Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.
Lacson explained that he voted against the passage of the measure because of "the continuing presence of pork barrel allocations."
He pointed out that an insertion of PHP3.6 billion still remains in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) which will be used for projects in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
"I know pork when I see it; when I hear about it; even when I smell it -- in the lounge, right in my office, and elsewhere, during information discussions and casual conversations with some of our colleagues and congressmen even," Lacson said.
The House of Representatives (HoR) ratified the bill a day ahead of the Senate on Tuesday.
Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, earlier said that the House contingent in the bicam accepted the Senate's position to allocate some PHP8.3 billion, originally allotted for development projects in the ARMM, to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
The amount will be used to finance free tuition for students in all State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and additional funds for incentives and grants.
The PHP3.35-trillion budget is the largest proposed budget to date, 11.6 percent higher than the 2016 budget
Source: Philippines News Agency