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'Build, build, build' gets a third of proposed 2018 national budget

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte submitted the P3.77-trillion proposed 2018 national budget to Congress after delivering his second State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 24.

The second national budget with inputs or crafted under the Duterte administration, the proposed 2018 programmed expenditures is 12.4% higher than last year. It represents 21.6% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2018.

All in all, the government's infrastructure program "Build, Build, Build" gets P1.097 trillion or almost a third of the budget. This puts the 2018 budget for infrastructure at 6.3% of the GDP. (READ: Expect huge infra spending, tax reform – Dominguez

Education and infrastructure development will receive the biggest share of the pie at P691.1 billion and P643.3 billion, respectively. (READ: Education, infra to get bulk of proposed 2018 nat'l budget)

According to the DBM, the education sector budget will fund the construction of additional 47,000 classrooms, rehabilitation of 18,000 classrooms, purchase of 84,781 chairs, and creation of 81,100 teaching positions. 

On infrastructure development, the Department of Public Works and Highways received P643.3 billion, a 37.5% increase from its 2017 allocation of P467.7 billion while the Department of Transportation has been allocated P73.8 billion. 

During his speech, the President stressed the need to continue the fight against illegal drugs. This is reflected in the budget. 

The interior department received P172.3 billion which will be used mosty for the operations against illegal drugs. Of this amount P900 million is proposed for the Oplan Double Barrel Alpha Reloaded, the government's campaign against illegal drugs. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines' 'war on drugs')

Meanwhile, the health sector received P164.3 billion under the proposed budget which is P15.7 billion higher than last year. Some P57.1 billion will be appropriated for the National Health Insurance Program which is P3.9 billion higher than the 2017 allocation, as the administration targets wider insurance coverage. (READ: PH seeks to expand insurance coverage for the poor)

Duterte approved the 2018 national budget proposed by the Department of Budget and Management during the 16th Cabinet meeting last July 3.

The early submission of the proposed budget "will allow Congress more time to closely examine and scrutinize it before passing it into law," the DBM said in a statement.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said deliberations for General Appropriations Act should be done by October.– 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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