Left-leaning groups want DND's 2023 budget slashed | Inquirer News

Left-leaning groups want DND’s 2023 budget slashed

/ 05:26 PM September 15, 2022
Gabriela,  Kilusang Mayo Uno, and other left-leaning groups want the proposed 2023 budget of DND slashed

Members of the left-leaning Gabriela Party-list, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kadamay, and other youth organizations hold a rally outside the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Thursday, September 15, 2022, while the proposed 2023 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND) is being deliberated by lawmakers. The activists want the DND budget slashed in favor of social aid and the COVID-19 response. Photo from Gabriela Party-list

MANILA, Philippines — With the country still suffering from a pandemic and an economic crisis, the “mammoth” Department of National Defense (DND) budget for 2023 must be reduced.

The call came from left-leaning organizations like Gabriela party-list, Kilusang Mayo Uno, KADAMAY, and other youth groups, which staged a rally at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City to protest the proposed P250.7 billion budget of DND next year.

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Gabriela secretary general Clarice Palce said House legislators and President Ferdinand Macros Jr. should not forget that country is facing economic problems which need more attention and funding than defense spending.

“The Department of National Defense is set to receive a mammoth PHP 250.7 billion in funding, a 9% increase in its allocation for 2022. Marcos Jr. must be reminded that we continue to be in the middle of both a pandemic and the country’s most disastrous economic crisis yet since World War II,” Palce said in a statement.

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“Our economy is on the verge of collapse as prices of oil and basic goods soar, hunger and unemployment are at their worst, and violence against women happening on a wide scale. Why does the Marcos Jr.-Duterte government choose to inflate the military budget instead of providing solutions to these problems? Are we addressing an economic crisis or waging war against the people?” she asked.

Palce also noted that Filipino families, including women, have lost their jobs or source of income due to the pandemic – burdens that were exacerbated by rising prices of goods and other commodities.

Gabriela,  Kilusang Mayo Uno, and other left-leaning groups want the proposed 2023 budget of DND slashed

Members of the left-leaning Gabriela Party-list, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kadamay, and other youth organizations hold a rally outside the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Thursday, September 15, 2022, while the proposed 2023 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND) is being deliberated by lawmakers. The activists want the DND budget slashed in favor of social aid and the COVID-19 response. Photo from Gabriela Party-list

“Any sensible person would think uplifting them should be the priority. Yet the Marcos-Duterte 2023 budget allocation, which reflects the slashing of funds for Filipino workers through DOLE by a whopping 49% in favor of intensified military spending of the DND, shows otherwise,” she claimed.

“In fact, as it stands, the government will be spending a mere PHP 560 to serve each employed Filipino, in contrast to a whopping PHP 1.6 million per personnel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). That is gross, absurd, and completely unacceptable,” she added.

Under the 2023 National Expenditures Program (NEP), the defense cluster has P250.7 billion, which is 4.76 percent of the proposed P5.268 trillion national budget. While several sectors still got higher funding – like the education cluster, which has an allocation of P852.8 billion; infrastructure, P718.4 billion; and health sector, P296.3 billion, critics still believe that funding for DND should be cut.

READ: P296.3-B health budget for 2023: Higher but still ‘not enough’

Gabriela,  Kilusang Mayo Uno, and other left-leaning groups want the proposed 2023 budget of DND slashed

Members of the left-leaning Gabriela Party-list, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kadamay, and other youth organizations hold a rally outside the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Thursday, September 15, 2022, while the proposed 2023 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND) is being deliberated by lawmakers. The activists want the DND budget slashed in favor of social aid and the COVID-19 response. Photo from Gabriela Party-list

Groups were asserting that the health sector should have more budget as the current proposal is not enough, even if it’s a 4.9 percent increase from last year’s.

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Calls like these are not new, though because, in 2021, the opposition bloc in the Senate asked for a reduction of the defense budget in favor of social assistance programs.

READ: ‘Downsize’ defense spending in 2022 in favor of ‘ayuda,’ pandemic response — Drilon

On the other hand, there were also proposals to increase the defense allocation by two percent to boost the national security program.

But Gabriela questioned the track record of the DND, particularly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in terms of allegedly violating the rights of ordinary citizens.

“Even now, we continue to call for the surfacing of our sisters Loi, Cha, Elgene, and countless other victims of enforced disappearances as a result of the AFP’s terroristic witch-hunt and counter-insurgency operations targeting civilians,” Palce said.

“The Department of National Defense does not deserve even a single cent from us. We demand the billions wasted on this wretched institution instead be re-channeled to the things Filipinos instead need most today: social services, aid, and a people-centered crisis response,” she added.

KGA/abc
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TAGS: 2023, DND, Gabriela, Kadamay, KMU, National Budget, rights
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