DBM presents proposed ₱3.35 trillion budget for 2017

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disclosed Thursday its proposed ₱3.35 trillion budget for 2017, which will prioritize infrastructure, investments in social services, and modernization of agriculture.

Budget Sec. Ben Diokno said his proposed budget for 2017 is about 11 percent more than the current budget of ₱3 trillion that was approved during the Aquino administration.

The fund to run the government makes up almost three-fourths of the budget, while the rest of the budget is allotted for items that are immediately funded, including interest payment on government debts.

For social services, the DBM wants to spend more for the construction of school buildings, slated at ₱118 billion or 44 percent higher than this year's.

The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for poor families remains but will not be expanded, with a ₱54.9-billion budget for 4.4 million household beneficiaries.

The administration will also raise health insurance subsidies for poor families by 15 percent, with a ₱50-billion budget.

Budget for the Department of National Defense (DND) will focus more on the pension and salary of soldiers rather than purchasing new military hardware.

"Sabi niya (President Rodrigo Duterte), wala na muna 'yang eroplano, 'di ba, pero siguro mga choppers continuous siguro," Diokno said.

[Translation: "As he (President Rodrigo Duterte) said, we will not purchase airplanes for now. But, I suppose, more choppers will be bought."]

Also read: What are the challenges to Duterte's plans?

No more BUB

Contrary to the past administration's budget, there will be no more funds allotted for the bottom-up budgeting (BUB) project in the 2017 budget, save for poorer municipalities.

BUB was created by the Aquino administration in 2012, wherein civil society organization (CSOs), through local government units, are given the opportunity to propose their own projects.

Diokno claimed BUB was only used as a "political tool" by the past administration.

"We could've used it for more effective projects," Diokno said.

However, Diokno said each congressman can propose ₱80-million worth of projects in their districts.

Diokno claimed this would not be a revival of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) in 2013 and was also abolished in the same year.

"No, it's not pork barrel. Kasi 'yung pork barrel 'yung ano nun parang pera mo na yun eh (ng congressman)," Diokno said.

[Translation: "No, it's not pork barrel. Pork barrel is allotted in the guise of the congressman's own money."]

"A congressman, who[m] the people elected, eh may karapatan naman siguro 'yung congressman."

[Translation: "I think a congressman, who[m] the people elected, is entitled to it (funds)."]

Diokno explained lawmakers can only identify major infrastracture projects and these should be coursed through the budgets of concerned agencies before the President signs the appropriations bill into law.

The Budget chief plans to finalize the 2017 budget before August ends.

Also read: New PPP deals eyed by Duterte team