Solons hit budget cuts on basic services, increase in military and police funding

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 23 2018 05:43 PM

Child rights advocates on Wednesday raised alarm over budget cuts for social services amid proposed hikes in military and police funding. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Makabayan bloc lawmakers on Thursday expressed concern over increased spending on the military and police under the proposed 2019 budget despite cuts in funding for basic services.

"Engage pa rin natin ang Duterte administration at House leadership sa usapin ng paano ba ipa-prioritize ang budget. Kami naglabas na rin ng statement, kailangan i-overhaul ang budget dahil sa malawakang cuts na ginawa for the 2019 budget especially sa frontline services like health, housing, education at iba pa," Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a press conference.

(We will continue to engage the Duterte administration and the House leadership in setting priorities for the budget. We have also released a statement saying there is a need to overhaul the budget because of massive cuts in the 2019 budget especially for frontline services like health, housing, education and others.) 

ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the budget submitted by the executive is inadequate despite increased taxes.

"Di natin nakita 'yung anumang pagdagdag sa budget ng ahensiya na kinaltasan. Nananatili pa rin hanggang ngayon 'yung budget cuts sa education, health, kakapusan ng pondo sa housing, social services, at iba pa. Sa kabila ng pagpostura ng House, mananaig pa rin ang posisyon ng Malacañang at DBM (Department of Budget and Management)," he said.

(We don't see any increase in the budget of agencies that had budget cuts. There are still budget cuts in education, health, inadequate funds for housing, social services etc. Despite the posturing of the House, the position of Malacañang and the DBM will prevail.)

Zarate noted that budget deliberations will soon resume. 

The House leadership last week announced the resumption of deliberations following an agreement to restore budget cuts even as there was a consensus that next year’s budget would be a hybrid cash-based and obligation-based budget.

Cash-based budgeting allows government to appropriate, bid out, complete and pay projects within a single year. 

Obligation-based budgeting, meanwhile, allows the government to do the same but spread out across 2 years or more. 

Zarate said the budget of the Department of Health was slashed by 25.6 percent under the 2019 proposal. The Department of Agrarian Reform, meanwhile, got the second biggest cut at 9.6 percent.

The Department of Education proposed to build 46,415 new classrooms next year but the DBM only approved 4,089 despite a huge deficit next year, said Zarate.

Meanwhile, the allocation for the Department of National Defense rose by 34.4 percent and the Department of Interior and Local Government by 30.9 percent.

Zarate noted that the departments cover agencies in the frontlines of the war on drugs and the counter-insurgency campaign: the Department of Interior and Local Government supervises the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, while the Department of National Defense has the Armed Forces of the Philippines under it.