Duterte signs P4.1-trillion 2020 budget into law

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte signed the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 into law on Monday, January 6.

Duterte signed the budget bill in a Malacañang ceremony, less than a week after the Philippine government started to operate under a reenacted budget.

In his speech, Duterte said the 2020 budget will be under a cash-based budgeting system. He thanked Congress for its "continued adoption" of the system. (READ: What is cash-based budgeting?)

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

The 2020 General Appropriations Act is 11.8% higher than the P3.662-trillion national budget for 2019 and represents 19.4% of the country's projected gross domestic product in 2020.

Education and public works remained as departments with the biggest budgets in 2020, with the Department of Education receiving P654.6 billion and the Department of Public Works and Highways getting P580.8 billion.

They were followed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government with a budget of P239.8 billion.

The President did not exercise his veto powers in this year's appropriations law, despite Senator Panfilo Lacson urging him to do so.

Lacson earlier raised questionable items in the 2020 budget bill, saying that there were "last-minute insertions" in the bicameral conference committee report.

In a statement on Monday, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the crafting of this year's national budget was "democracy at work." The 2020 budget was less controversial than the 2019 appropriations law, which led to a reenacted budget for 4 months.

"With democracy at work in the House under the leadership of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, we managed to craft a national budget that is truly a collaborative product of hardworking legislators," Romualdez said.

"No pork, no parking, and no delay," he added, seemingly hinting at Lacson's claims that there were insertions.

Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, welcomed the signing of the budget despite the 6-day delay.

"All members of Congress worked together to prevent a similar situation from happening with the 2020 budget. As it has been in previous years, there were differences on some issues, but we were able to resolve these with haste, all for the greater good of the country," Angara said.

"We were off by a few days, but this should have no impact on the operation of the government," he added.

The weeklong delay in signing the budget bill baffled some, as the President could've not missed the deadline. But in a briefing last December 26, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte still had to "go through the details of the 2020 budget." – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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