PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, December 22, signed into to law the country’s P3.35 trillion budget for 2017.
The Republic Act 10924 or the General Appropriations Act (GAA), which is 11.6 percent higher than the 2016 budget, has been so far the largest annual budget assembled by any Philippine administration.
“The signing of the GAA (General Appropriations Act) affirms the national government commitment to support the needs of our people, to enhance basic social services and project,” Duterte said.
He assured that the budget, which also the represents 21 percent of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017, will be “pro-people, pro-investment, pro-growth, and pro-development.”
“I have said this before and I will reiterate it. The budget is useless if the Filipino is not at its center. This budget is a credible budget where every peso will be spent for the governments, for the gains of the Filipino people,” he stressed.
In next year’s annual budget, the Department of Education (DepEd) received the highest allocation, with P544.1 to fund education facilities, salaries of teaching and non-teaching personnel, and the development of learning resources.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was also given P18.7 billion to give poor but deserving Filipinos access to tertiary education.
On the other hand, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Department of Health (DOH) was given the budget allocation of P128.3 billion and P96.3 billion respectively.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. was also given P53.22 billion to fund the universal health care program.
“This annual amount includes 78.2 billion for the Conditional Cash Transfer program. CCT beneficiaries will also receive a monthly rice allowance to ensure that there is food on the table for every Filipino family,” Duterte noted.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), meanwhile, got P148 billion for projects, mostly to be used in the administration’s war on drugs such as building new jail facilities and increasing the allowance of prisoners.
A P486.9 billion was also given to local governments for development programs.
“The national intensification and the household electrification program in off-grid areas will also be prioritized. Included in the budget of herein is the 1.1 billion budget, an increase of 38.4 from its 2016 budget is the electrification efforts for remote areas,” the president added.
Furthermore, the Department of Defense (DND) was granted a P137.2 billion, while the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) a P454.7 billion, and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) a P53.3 billion.
“We will pursue the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Program for the maintenance of major equipment, aircraft vessels and increase in ammunition capacity as well as the veterans’ hospitalization benefits,” Duterte said.
On the other hand, and allocation of P45.2 billion and P9.8 billion was provided to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) respectively.
According to Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles, who is also the chairman of the appropriations committee at the House of Representatives, the 2017 GAA “concretizes the president’s commitment in bringing meaningful change to the country.”
“The national budget spells out in very clear terms the policy of the Duterte administration and that is to take care of the poor and marginalized sectors of society, with 40 percent going to social services,” Nograles said.
He added the allocations were “meant to grow our economy even more and accelerate economic activities particularly in the countryside and rural areas, with nearly 30 percent spending on economic services next year 2017.”