Duterte seeks P3.35T budget for 2017

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MAIDEN BUDGET Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno (fourth from left) submits the Duterte administration’s proposed P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017, dubbed ‘A Budget for Real Change,’ to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (seventh from left). PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

MAIDEN BUDGET Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno (fourth from left) submits the Duterte administration’s proposed P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017, dubbed ‘A Budget for Real Change,’ to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (seventh from left). PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

THE DUTERTE administration on Monday asked Congress for a P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017, up by 12 percent from this year’s outlay, with the increase going to the country’s hosting of next year’s Asean meetings and rice subsidies for the poor.

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President Rodrigo Duterte sought a tenfold increase in the budget of the Office of the President (OP) to P20 billion. Of this amount, P19.3 billion will go to maintenance and other operating expenses, while P747 million will be for personnel services. Capital outlay is just at P660,000.

Secretary Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management attributed the rise to the country’s hosting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meetings next year, which will cost P15 billion.

“We are hosting the golden anniversary of Asean which is at P15 billion. This is really under the OP. Once the budget is approved, this amount will be disbursed to various agencies that will need the money for the Asean hosting,” Diokno told reporters after submitting the Duterte administration’s maiden budget proposal.

Also contributing to the increase was Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 1 which placed 12 agencies under the supervision of a top aide, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr.

Pantawid budget hiked
The Duterte administration also hiked the budget for the conditional cash transfer or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, to P78.7 billion in 2017 from P62 billion this year, to include rice subsidies for the poor as promised by the President during the campaign.

This was included under the proposed P129.9-billion budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) submitted to Congress.

Of the P78.7 billion, P23.4 billion will be spent for rice allowances of three million CCT households. Eligible households will be given 20 kilos of rice monthly for 12 months starting 2017.

There are at least 4.62 million families under the program.

“There are cases where there are two beneficiary families in the same household. This [rice subsidy]is 20 kilos per household times 12 [months]. This is not a one to one correspondence. Every beneficiary [family]will be given rice subsidy,” Diokno said.

Beneficiaries get cash incentives provided they comply with the following conditions: children should be present in school 85 percent of the time and family members should undergo regular medical check-ups and attend family development sessions.

The DSWD will maintain a Sustainable Livelihood Program involving micro-enterprise development and employment facilitation for half a million families.

Housing
Affordable housing for the poor will have P15.4-billion budget.

Of this amount, P12.6 billion will go to the National Housing Authority for socialized housing, particularly the resettlement of informal settlers from danger zones and housing assistance for calamity victims.

A P7.3-billion allocation was proposed for the Department of Transportation, for the resettlement of informal settlers to be affected by the North to South Railway Project.

“This shows our commitment to the policy of no demolition without relocation to provide support to those who will be displaced by our efforts to ramp up transportation projects,” President Duterte said in his budget message.

Military, police
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) meanwhile sought a P130.6-billion budget for next year, 15 percent higher than this year’s.

“This will be used to intensify the AFP’s counter-terrorism efforts and to protect our borders,” Duterte said.
The Revised AFP Modernization Program in particular will get P25 billion to acquire more weapons and equipment for soldiers.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) sought P110.4 billion, higher by 24.6 percent than this year’s budget.

The PNP plans to hire 10,000 additional police officers and to fund its “capability enhancement program.”

“My government will double or even triple its efforts to bring drug pushers and crime syndicates behind bars as well as to put a stop to terrorism,” the President said in his budget message.

Diokno also said there would be a budget for new 550-bed hospitals and rehabilitation centers for 2017, with each center costing P700 million.

The President promised to increase the salaries of policemen, soldiers, and other uniformed personnel.
“We will pursue a law that increases the base pay of uniformed personnel [and]reforms the pension system of retirees,” said Duterte in his budget message.

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