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President Duterte signed the P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017 into a law in Malacañang yesterday.
The signing of the Republic Act 10924 or the General Appropriations Act for 2017, the first of the Duterte administration and so far the biggest annual budget assembled, at the Rizal Hall was witnessed by government officials, lawmakers, and business leaders.
According to the Department of Budget and Management, the “People’s Budget” seeks to attain real change that can be felt by ordinary Filipinos. “It embodies the pro-people, pro-investment, pro-growth, and pro-development thrust of the government,” the DBM said.
The Department of Education received the highest allocation of all Executive departments at P544.1 billion to enable the agency to provide and maintain basic education facilities, create teaching and non-teaching positions, as well as develop and provide learning resources to more than 20 million Filipino students in the country.
State Universities and Colleges were given P58.72 billion and P18.7 billion for the Commission on Higher Education to enable deserving Filipinos to have access to tertiary education.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development was granted P128.3 billion. A significant portion of its allocation will be for the Conditional Cash Transfer program and monthly rice subsidy for impoverished households.
The Department of Health has budget of P96.3 billion to provide the marginalized sector with new and modernized health facilities and expanded health services. The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. was provided with P53.22 billion to fund the universal healthcare program.
The Department of Interior and Local Government has a P148 billion budget to enable it to assist in the war against drugs, construct new jail facilities, and increase the allowance for prisoners.
Aside from the P486.9 billion Internal Revenue Allotment, local governments were also provided with additional transfers such as the Local Government Support Fund.
To improve peace and order in the country, the Department of National Defense has a P137.2 billion budget for territorial defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, and security and stability services.
The 2017 budget provided the Department of Public Works and Highways with P454.7 billion and the Department of Transportation with P53.3 billion, an increase of 18.3 percent and 25 percent compared to their 2016 allocations.
The DBM said that the sizeable increase in both departments along with more than P850 billion allotment for the construction of road networks in cities and provinces, school buildings, hospitals, transport infrastructure, and many other public works will raise productivity, generate jobs, and attract investments.
It will also facilitate the conduct of business and improve the mobility of people and accessibility of basic services, the DBM added. (ROY C. MABASA)