President Rodrigo Duterte signed the 2020 national budget amounting to P4.1 trillion on Monday, urging officials to ensure that it will only be used for the benefit of Filipinos and not of a few with “selfish greed.”

During his speech in a Malacañang ceremony, the President said the budget will support the government’s vision of a better Philippines as it allocates significant amounts to develop infrastructure and social services. 

According to Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Duterte did not reject any item in this year’s national budget. 

“As we look forward to another productive year for this administration, I ask Congress and our civil society partners, as well as my fellow civil servants in the executive department, to remain driven toward our collective goal of providing a more comfortable life for our people,” Duterte said. 

“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,” he added. 

Moreover, Duterte pointed out that the passing of the 2020 budget shows that the government, with the invaluable work of the Congress, can effectively work together to implement measures supporting its agenda within the rest of his term. 

Aside from that, the President extended his thanks to the Congress as it supported his fiscal policies, which include the cash budgeting system as well as the comprehensive tax reform program implementation. 

The national budget for this year corresponds to 19.5% of the projected gross domestic product. This is considered as the country’s largest budget so far, exceeding 2019 budget by 12%.

Coverage of 2020 budget

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano congratulated his colleagues for finishing the hearings on the budget proposal on Friday. (Image source: Philstar)

With P1.495 trillion or 36.5%, the social services receives the biggest portion of the budget. This will benefit the capital development programs in education, health and social protection.

Programs covered within this outlay are the universal access for quality tertiary education (P39 billion), basic education facilities program (P36 billion), universal health care (P172.4 billion), the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (P108.8 billion) and the unconditional cash transfer (P36.5 billion). 

Furthermore, the government appropriated P1.2 trillion to economic services, which equates to 29.3% and higher by 23.7% compared to 2019’s allocation.

A total of P581.7 billion went to public works while P100.6 was given to the transportation department in line with the administration’s plan to increase infrastructure spending.

Meanwhile, the defense department got P192.1 billion whereas the Philippine National Police received P187.3 billion. And to support the needs of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the government allocated some P70.6 billion for it. 

A combined outlay of P692.6 billion was given to the education department, state universities and colleges, the Commission on Higher Education and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. The interior and local government was, however, apportioned P241.6 billion.

Senate finance committee chair Sen. Sonny Angara said the few days delay in the approval of the budget would not disadvantage the operations of the government. 

“Our experience with the 2019 General Appropriations Act was regrettable. The delays faced in the approval of the measure proved to be very costly on the people, who were expecting the timely delivery of key services, and on the economy, which grew at a slower pace,” said Angara.

He also said that the 2020 appropriations could be described as the Duterte administration’s first legacy budget.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez lauded the President for signing the budget which he described as pro-poor and which will execute the massive infrastructure program of the government beyond 2020.

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