Duterte signs 'real change' budget for 2017

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 22 2016 02:22 PM | Updated as of Dec 22 2016 03:22 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed the P3.35 trillion budget for "real change" in 2017, his first full year in office, to deliver on his promises to fight crime and grow the economy.

The spending program includes a record P850 billion, or five percent of gross domestic product, to build new roads, bridges and transport terminals, according to data from the budget department.

“The General Appropriations Act of 2017 is the embodiment of the Filipinos' clamor for real change,” Duterte said in his speech on Thursday.

“As the first budget of my administration, we ensured that it will be pro-people, pro-investment, pro-growth and pro-development," he added.

The Department of Education, which should get the biggest allocation under law, secured P544 billion. This includes a provision to increase teachers' cash or chalk allowance to P2,000 from P1,500.

The Department of Health got nearly P150 billion, which includes P1.5 billion to bring more doctors to far-flung areas and P3 billion to provide Filipinos access to universal healthcare.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development got P128.3 billion, including P78.2 billion for conditional cash transfers for the poorest of the poor.

The Department of Interior and Local Government received a budget of P148 billion to fund efforts against illegal drugs, construct new jail facilities, and increase the allowance for prisoners.

The Department of National Defense secured P137.2 billion for territorial defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, and security and stability services.

The allocation for the Department of Agriculture amounted to P45.2 billion while the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is provided with P9.8 billion. Free irrigation for farmers will be shouldered by the National Irrigation Authority's budget of P38.4 billion for 2017.

"The budget is useless if the Filipino is not its center. The budget is a credible budget where every peso works," Duterte said.