MANILA— Government should "move to the backburner" military and security spending as it is expected to submit a record P5-trillion budget for 2022, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Thursday.
Drilon said the proposed funds for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, whose officers are criticized for red-tagging, will double to P30 billion.
"Is this a correct priority given the pandemic? Can we not postpone this in the meantime?" he told ANC's Headstart.
The budget must have the "correct prioritization" as it is expected to be primarily financed through borrowings, he said.
"We will scrutinize it carefully. Remember this will be financed principally from borrowings because government income from taxes would not be meeting the usual levels that we have because of the pandemic," he said.
"We will examine this closely not only in terms of sources of fund but also the priority of the expenditures."
The country's borrowings must not exceed 60 percent of its gross domestic product, Drilon added.
"From what I read, it’s almost there 60 percent," he said.
"We just hope that the borrowings, the fund realized from the loans are properly spent."
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will focus on the Commission on Audit report that found deficiencies in the management of the Department of Health's P67 billion in pandemic funds, according to Drilon.
Other agencies that the COA flagged will be questioned during their budget hearing, the senator said.