(L-R) Budget Sec. Diokno presents next year's national budget proposal to House Speaker Alvarez. (L-R) Budget Sec. Diokno presents next year's national budget proposal to House Speaker Alvarez. CNN Philippines

Proposed ₱3.35 trillion budget submitted to Congress


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Duterte Administration is putting its money where its mouth is.

Budget Secretary Ben Diokno turned over to Congress the proposed ₱3.35 trillion budget for 2017, which is 11.6% higher than this year's budget.

Related: DBM presents proposed ₱3.35 trillion budget for 2017

The budget of the Office of the President significantly increased by 600% — from ₱2.8 billion pesos this year, ₱20 billion will be allocated next year. The office is also getting the biggest increase in the budget.

Even Diokno does not seem to be familiar with such increase at first.

When asked about it, Diokno said, "I'm not aware. Is it ₱20 billion? I don't think so. Are you talking of the Office of the President? I don't think it increased by that much."

But after he was shown a copy of the budget, Diokno stood corrected.

He then tried to justify the increase in the OP's budget.

Diokno explains the budget of the Office of the President significantly increased because of the funding for the Golden Anniversary Celebration of the Association of South East Asian Nations, which the Philippines will host.

In a text message to CNN Philippines, Diokno said the ₱15 billion was added to the OP’s budget to fund the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN next year. 

He says though, the ₱15billion under OP will still be distributed to concerned agencies next year.

Budget for crime suppression

In the President Rodrigo Duterte's budget message, he stated that his government will double or even triple its efforts to bring drug pushers and crime syndicates behind bars.

The Department of Budget Management (DBM) allocated ₱110.4 billion to the Philippine National Police for 2017, which is 24.6% higher than the current budget. This will be used to hire more policemen, buy more guns and patrol vehicles, and finance other anti-crime activities such as the construction of rehabilitation centers.

"There are four additional 550-bed hospitals for rehab and one rehab center would cost something like ₱700 million. And we're also creating new positions to help in rebel infested areas," Diokno said.

Related: What are the challenges to Duterte's plans?

The DBM increased the budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ₱130.6 billion pesos — 15% higher than this year's budget.

It aims to intensify the government's counter-terrorism efforts, to protect our borders, and to increase the salaries of military and uniformed personnel.

Golden age of infrastructure

The Duterte administration also hopes to start the golden age of infrastructure in the country by increasing the infrastructure budget to ₱860.7 billion.

This is 13.8% higher than the budget allocation for infrastructure for this year.

Diokno said the Duterte administration hopes to allocate a total of ₱7 trillion from 2016 to 2022 for infrastructure.

"Itong ₱900 billion for 2017, downpayment lang iyan sa ₱7 trillion. Ang mangyayari nyan, we will address all the needs of the people of the Philippines, hindi lang sa (not only in) Metro Manila. We will identify such projects," Diokno said.

Diokno added the Duterte government is planning to build three more train lines.

The budget Secretary explained though, these projects will be undertaken through Private-Public Partnership (PPP) programs.

"I think there is a need for three more lines. 'Di ba meron kang (You already have) MRT, LRT, then you have MRT7. You need 3 more lines, we will address those. But hindi yon kasama (But that's not included), that's more like PPP type. The PPP projects will be on top of the ₱7 trillion over six years," Diokno said.

No budget for Charter Change, congressmen projects

Diokno added there is no budget allotted for Charter Change in the 2017 budget.

Duterte has repeatedly said that among the priorities of his administration is the revision of the 1987 Constitution and the shift to a federal form of government.

Diokno explained the President prefers Constituent Assembly, wherein it is the elected members of the Upper and Lower chambers of Congress which will amend the Constitution.

"There is no budget for Charter Change here. But as you know, the preference of the President is Con-Ass. That does not involve additional expenses. Or if so, we can get it from the contingent fund," said Diokno.

There is also no budget allotted specifically for the projects of congressmen or senators in the 2017 budget.

Earlier reports claim that ₱80 million worth of projects has been allotted for each Congressman.

"Those are rumors but they are not true. There is no PDAF in this budget. Let's put it that way," Diokno said.

He added, "They may go to some heads of agencies and ask for projects, but there no is hard and fast rule that they will get so much. It is their right as congressman to request for what is good for their constituents."

Diokno said if lawmakers want to implement projects, they will have to approach the head of the appropriate agency.

"For example, a Congressman would identify ₱100 million worth of projects but they are not eligible, because all of them are basketball courts — then zero. But here is somebody who identifies specific projects which are worthwhile, which are consistent with the desire of the President to develop the countryside, we will of course, consider those requests," Diokno said.

Diokno also said the 2017 budget is in line with the Duterte administration's 10-point agenda.

On Monday next week, the House of Representatives is scheduled to start the committee deliberations, where lawmakers are expected to scrutinize if the budget is properly appropriated.

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