PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed into law the P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017, his first.
In his speech before government officials, lawmakers and business leaders in Malacañang, Duterte said the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA), or Republic Act 10924, was the “embodiment of Filipinos’ clamor for change.”
“The signing of the GAA affirms the national government commitment to support the needs of our people, to enhance basic social services and projects,” the President said.
“As the first budget of my administration, we ensure that it will be pro-people, pro-investment, pro-growth, and pro-development,” he added.
The 2017 GAA is 11.6 percent higher than the 2016 budget and is 21 percent of the projected gross domestic product for 2017.
Duterte said the Department of Education, which should get the biggest allocation under the Constitution, secured P544 billion in funding. The allocation for state universities and colleges increased by 23.8 percent to P58.72 billion, the President added.
The Department of Health got nearly P150 billion, which includes P1.5 billion to bring more doctors to far-flung areas and P3 billion to provide Filipinos access to universal healthcare.
“Existing health facilities will be improved through the healthcare facilities enhancement program, while indigent patients will also receive free services from government hospitals,” he said.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) got P128.3 billion, including P78.2 billion for conditional cash transfers (CCT) for the poorest of the poor.
Duterte stressed that poverty alleviation is “an important aspect of attaining real change. “
“As such, DSWD will get P128.3 billion in 2017, an increase of 15.8 percent from the 2016 budget. This annual amount includes P78.2 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,” the President said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government received a budget of P148 billion to fund the campaign to eliminate illegal drugs, construct new jails and increase the allowance for prisoners. The budget for electrification of remote areas was increased by 38.4 percent to P1.1 billion.
Stressing that the 2017 budget is “pro-growth and pro-investment,” Duterte said the Department of Public Works and Highways received P454.7 billion while the Department of Transportation got P53.3 billion, up slightly from 2016.
The Department of National Defense obtained P137.2 billion for territorial defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program, and security services.
The Philippine National Police, which leads the administration’s war on drugs, was given an increased budget of P110 billion from P88 billion in 2016.
“Our men and women in uniform deserve development because they dedicate sweat and blood to protect our beloved Philippines. We have already taken giant leaps to reform our country. We have established and developed policies that will tremendously change our systems for the common good,” the President said.
Duterte said the allocation for the Department of Agriculture amounted to P45.2 billion while the Department of Agrarian Reform was given P9.8 billion.
Free irrigation for farmers, he said, would be shouldered by the National Irrigation Authority’s budget of P38.4 billion for 2017.
“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 gains of the Filipino people,” the President said.