President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed into law the P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017, his first appropriations measure as the country's Chief Executive.
Republic Act No. 10924 or the General Appropriations Act (GAA) provides for allocations that are 11.6 percent higher than those in the 2016 general appropriations act that cost P3 trillion.
"Higher than last year's budget, the 2017 budget of P3.35 trillion includes a sizeable increase in allocation of infrastructure projects, free education for state universities and colleges, universal health care, rice allowance for the poor, free irrigation subsistence, allowance for prisoners, pension for war veterans and centenarians that should directly benefit our citizens," Duterte said in his speech after signing.
The Department of Education (DepEd) will receive the biggest chunk of the budget with P544.1 billion, as mandated by the Constitution.
The national budget also includes P58.72 billion for state universities and colleges and P18.7 billion for Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
"The GAA affirms the national government's commitments to support the needs of our people to enhance basic social services and projects," Duterte said.
"As the first budget of my administration, we ensure that it will be pro-people, pro-investment, pro-growth, and pro-development," he added.
"The signing of the GAA affirms the national government's commitments to support the needs of our people to enhance basic social services and projects," Duterte said.
With a promise to make Duterte's term the "golden age of infrastructure," P454.7 billion was allocated to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and P53.3 billion for Department of Transportation (DoTr).
To continue the efforts against illegal drugs and improve peace and order in the country, the 2017 budget will include P148 billion for Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and P137.2 billion for the Department of National Defense (DND).
The Duterte administration granted P128.3 billion for Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Department of Health (DOH) was given an allocation of P96.3 billion. Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will get P53.22 billion from the national budget.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will also get P2 billion for the farmers.
"Farmers will no longer have to pay irrigation fees with P2 billion allocation for National Irrigation Administration... I've been wondering all these years why we have to pay for water,” he said.
The ceremonial signing of the national budget for 2017 was witnessed by lawmakers, business leaders, and development partners. —NB, GMA News