MANILA -- The House of Representatives on Tuesday night ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed PHP3.767-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2018.  

This after the bicameral conference committee approved the proposed 2018 budget on the same day.

House appropriations committee chair Karlo Nograles said he expects the national budget be signed into law on or before Dec. 19, the Congress' self-imposed deadline for the signing.   

Nograles said among the salient features of the bill are lined up for the education sector, including the increase in cash allowance for public school teachers from PHP2,500 to PHP3,500 with an allocation of PHP770 million; the increase of PHP10 million each for all state universities and colleges (SUCS) for capital outlays; and a PHP40 billion allocation to fund the free college education program in SUCs nationwide.   

"Now there is no stopping free college education in the country. This is truly a legacy-defining measure for the Duterte administration, and its implementation was made possible through the 2018 national budget," Nograles said.

Nograles said the base pay hike for cops and soldiers, which was recently approved on final reading by the House, has a budget allocation of PHP63 billion.  

"This will double the basic pay of both the Police Officer 1 and Private from PHP14,834 per month to PHP29,668 per month. The funding requirement for this is already included in the 2018 General Appropriations Bill," he said.  

Nograles also said there is funding allotted for the purchase of body cameras for Philippine National Police (PNP) members amounting to PHP334 million  

Meanwhile, the supposed PHP900 million budget for OPLAN Double Barrel was realigned for the housing of members of the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines. (PNA)