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Duterte signs ‘social payback’ budget

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget, and of which a big portion is allocated for social services and infrastructure development.

READ: Infra projects assured with 2020 budget

House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez welcomed the budget’s signing.

“This is a pro-poor GAA that will carry the President’s continued commitment of social payback to make the life of Filipinos comfortable,” Romualdez said in a statement.

He said the budget priorities included social services, peace and security and infrastructure to support Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program.

Senator Sonny Angara said the 2020 GAA could be described as the first legacy budget of the Duterte administration.

He said in the last three years of the administration, Duterte said there would be an uptick in the implementation of infrastructure projects, particularly the flagship projects, which were meant to improve the lives of the people.

Under the 2020 GAA, Angara said the Department of Public Works and Highways received a net increase of P51.139 billion.

“The idea is to complete as many projects as possible by the time President Duterte ends his term in 2022,” Angara said.

The 2020 GAA is 12 percent higher than the P3.662-trillion budget in 2019 and represents 19.4 percent of the country’s projected gross domestic product this year.

The social services sector accounts for the largest bulk of the budget (P1.495 trillion or 36.5 percent) that would be used to fund government programs on education, health and social protection, such as the Universal Health Care Program and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. 

This was followed by economic services such as infrastructure programs (P1.2 trillion or 29.3 percent), general public services (P746.7 billion or 18.2 percent), debt servicing (P461 billion or 11.2 percent) and defense (P197.4 billion or 4.8 percent).

Across all departments, Education will receive the lion’s share (P692.6 billion), followed by Public Works and Highways (P581.7 billion), Interior and Local Government (P241.6 billion) and Social Welfare and Development (P200.5 billion). 

Next followed the Department of National Defense (P192.1 billion), Health (P175.9 billion), Transportation (P100.6 billion) and Agriculture (P64.7 billion).

The Judiciary and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources followed with P41.2 billion and P26.4 billion, respectively.

In his speech, the President urged government workers to use the funds for the service of taxpayers. 

“Together, let us ensure that every peso in the budget will never be used to support the selfish greed of the few, but spent exclusively for the benefit and service of Filipino taxpayers,” Duterte said.

Congress submitted the proposed General Appropriations Act to the Palace on Dec. 20 last year, but the ceremonial signing had been delayed due to the President’s “thorough scrutiny,” according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

It was the second time under Duterte that the annual budget bill was not enacted by the end of the year.

Last year, the passage of the 2019 appropriation was also stalled by the bickering among congressional leaders who had accused each other of placing last-minute insertions in the proposed budget.

The 2019 budget was signed in April, forcing the administration to operate under a reenacted budget for months that slowed the country’s GDP. With Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos-Araneta

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Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , national budget , Martin Romualdez , "Build , Build , Build program"
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