President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday signed the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 that is expected to boost the government’s efforts to effectively respond to the challenges of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and provide critical measures to aid the economic and social sectors.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11518 in a ceremony in Malacañan Palace just three days after Christmas.
RA 11518 aims to help address the Covid-19 pandemic, boost infrastructure development, generate job opportunities, and rebuild by assisting communities adapt to the post-pandemic life.
In his speech, Duterte emphasized that the budget bill attests to a fruitful collaboration between the executive and legislative branches of government, especially at a time where the health and welfare of people are at stake.
“The prompt ratification of the ’21 national budget is a testament of our commitment to set aside divisive partisan politics. Indeed, at this crucial juncture in our history, we can no longer afford to engage in politics of division, hate, and finger pointing,” he said.
“I am pleased that through the budget, we may continue to pursue our flagship Build, Build, Build program, revitalize our industry, and service sectors, and support our much-needed social services project,” he said.
Duterte said one of the most important allocations in the budget is the P72.5 billion for the purchase of storage, transportation, and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
He assured the public that the administration would ensure the efficient use of resources to help overcome the debilitating effects of the pandemic on public health and the economy.
“I cannot stress this enough: Every centavo of this budget must be spent to ensure our nation’s recovery, resilience, and sustainability. Let me therefore serve as an assurance to the Filipino people, this coming year we intend to recover as one nation,” he said.
The Department of Budget and Management said the P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021, equivalent to 21.8 percent of gross domestic product, is the country’s largest to date, larger by 10 percent than the 2020 national budget.
In a statement, the DBM said the Education sector received the largest portion with P751.7 billion, or 16.7 percent of the budget.
The Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Interior and Local Government follow suit with P695.7 billion (15.4 percent) and P249.3 billion (5.5 percent), respectively, the DBM said.
The Department of Health, that leads the government’s Covid-19 response, received P210.2 billion, 19.6 percent higher than its 2020 national budget.
This is followed by the Department of National Defense with P205.8 billion, Department of Social Welfare and Development – P176.9 billion, Department of Transportation – P87.9 billion, Department of Agriculture – P71.0 billion, the Judiciary with P45.3 billion, and the Department of Labor and Employment – P37.1 billion.
As for the government’s Covid-19 response, the 2021 national budget provides P71.4 billion for the National Health Insurance Program to subsidize the health insurance premiums of 13 million indigent families and seven million senior citizens.
The Human Resources for Health Program was allotted P16.6 billion for the deployment of doctors, nurses, and other health workers to disadvantaged communities and national hospitals. Funds were also allocated for the procurement of personal protective equipment for hospitals, laboratories, and regional swab centers, GeneExpert cartridges to supplement the fast and accurate testing of Covid-19 cases, and the upgrade of hospital equipment, laboratories and quarantine facilities in different regions among other health-related expenses.*PNA