‘Downsize’ defense spending in 2022 in favor of ‘ayuda,’ pandemic response — Drilon
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday called on the executive department to increase funding for the social services sector in its proposed 2022 budget to Congress for the country’s pandemic response such as the provision of “ayuda.”
In a statement, Drilon said “the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, growing budget deficit and skyrocketing national debt should make the government reconsider its defense spending for 2022, including the allocation for its heavily-criticized anti-insurgency funds.”
“It cannot be the norm again next year, if we want to fast-track our economic recovery and lift our people out of poverty, hunger and unemployment,” the minority leader said.
“Because of our limited resources, the government needs to downsize its defense spending for next year in favor of the much-needed ayuda and other social and health services,” he added.
This, as he expressed dismay at the decrease of the social services sector budget with the share of the defense sector “continuously” increasing throughout the Duterte administration.
Drilon pointed out that from 2018, the social services sector has suffered a “negative growth”—from a 3-percent growth in 2017 to -2.4 in 2018, -0.3 in 2019, and -1.1 in 2020.
It slightly increased by only 0.5 percent in 2021, he noted.
This is in contrast with the share of the defense sector, which was on an “upward trend” except in 2019 when it decreased by 1 percent, according to the senator.
Drilon said the defense sector’s budget increased by 0.2 percent in 2018, 0.4 percent in 2020 and 0.2 percent in 2021, when the country is still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.
“Even if the national budget kept growing over the years, the percent share of social services to the national budget didn’t grow along with it and has in fact suffered decreases,” he said.
Drilon added that the “extraordinarily large funds” that will be allotted to the security sector in 2022 should instead be redirected or given to social services sector like health, education and labor.
He cited, for instance, the budget for its anti-insurgency fund of P19.2 billion this year.
The budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) could increase anywhere between P30 billion to P40 billion, he added.
There is no allocation for “ayuda” in the 2021 budget, meaning the government was “forced to scrimp and get [the] funding from other worthy projects,” Drilon pointed out.
While NTF-Elcac has been assured of funds, there is “no sign” that the government will include “ayuda” in its 2022 proposed national budget, he also said.
“We must increase the budgets of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Health to beef up our COVID-19 spending. We need to include a substantial amount of funds for ayuda in the next year’s budget and vaccine procurement,” Drilon added.
He also urged for an additional budget for the Department of Labor and Employment to address unemployment and the Department of Education to strengthen the country’s education system.
“We need to include a substantial amount of funds for vaccine procurement, ayuda specifically for poor households, workers, PUV drivers, and students struggling with distance learning, and support for MSMEs in next year’s budget,” Drilon said.
“I hope the Department of Budget and Management has allocated funds for ayuda and vaccine procurement in the to-be-submitted National Expenditure Program (NEP). The 2022 budget should not be a repeat of the 2021 budget where there’s no sufficient funds for pandemic response and recovery programs including ayuda and vaccine-procurement,” he added.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.