2020 budget priorities: Infrastructure, social services, peace and security

Mara Cepeda

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2020 budget priorities: Infrastructure, social services, peace and security
Under the proposed 2020 national budget, the Department of Education once again gets the lion's share with P673 billion

MANILA, Philippines – The national budget proposed by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte for 2020 shows it is prioritizing infrastructure, social services like education and universal health care, and peace and national security.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted on Tuesday, August 20, the proposed P4.1-trillion budget or National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2020 to the House of Representatives. 

The submission marks the beginning of the House’s deliberations on the 2020 budget, which lawmakers plan to pass on 3rd and final reading before the 18th Congress takes a break in October.

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

“This budget will renew our push for real change by sustaining our investments in public infrastructure and human capital development, namely health care, education, and poverty alleviation,” said Acting Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado. 

The government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program alone gets a whopping P972.5 billion in the proposed 2020 budget.

Of this number, about P203.8 billion will come from allocations under the Department of Public Works and Highways, including its network development program, asset preservation program, and bridge program. Other funds will come from the Department of Transportation: P106.7 billion worth of railway projects, P508 million for sea transportation, and P346 million for air transportation.

The Duterte administration is also prioritizing education, as the Department of Education will once again get the lion’s share of the budget among all government agencies with a proposed budget of P673 billion.

Part of this figure is the P68.5-billion allocation for state universities and colleges and P35.4 billion for the free tuition law.

Department Proposed budget in 2020

Department of Education 
(including SUCs, CHED, and TESDA)

P673 billion
Department of Public Works and Highways P534.3 billion
Department of the Interior and Local Government P238 billion

Department of Social Welfare and Development 
(including budget of the Land Bank of the Philippines for the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program)

P195 billion
Department of National Defense P189 billion

Department of Health 

(including PhilHealth and P7-billion budget lodged under the Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefits Fund)

P166.5 billion
Department of Transportation P147 billion
Department of Agriculture P56.8 billion
Judiciary P38.7 billion
Department of Environment and Natural Resources P26.4 billion

The universal health care program will also get P166.5 billion, P67.4 billion of which will go the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.  

Other social protection programs prioritized under the 2020 budget are the following:

  • Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program: P108.8 billion
  • Unconditional Cash Transfer Program: P37.2 billion
  • Social pension for indigent Filipino citizens: P23.2 billion
  • Protective services for individuals and families in difficult circumstances: P5.1 billion

Duterte, who is waging a bloody anti-drug campaign, also put the Philippine National Police (PNP) on top of his list of priorities in his budget message. Of the P184.8-billion proposed budget for the police force, P546 million will fund the implementation of the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drug Strategy of the Dangerous Drugs Board. Another P14.4 billion will be used to help fill up 26,685 positions in the PNP.

The Department of National Defense will get P189 billion to fund its modernization program and finance its anti-terrorism efforts. The Department of Justice will also be given P38.7 billion.

Duterte himself wants a “smooth transition” for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which will be getting P70.6 billion from the national government. A total of 63.6 billion of this accounts for the annual block grant for the region, while another P5 billion will go to its special development fund. The BARMM’s infrastructure development program will also get P17.7 billion.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House will “work day and night” to ensure the timely passage of the 2020 budget. 

He said the plenary session every Monday to Wednesday afternoon will be moved from 3 pm to 5 pm to give more time for the budget hearings, which will begin on Thursday, August 22. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.