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December 26, 2014

PNoy Aquino signs 2015 national budget

President Benigno Aquino III signs into law Republic Act 10651 or the P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015 in a ceremony at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of the Malacañan Palace last Tuesday, December 23.
President Aquino's signing of the 2015 National Budget December 23, 2014. Witnessing the ceremony are members of Congress led by Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. (Malacañang Photo Bureau)
President Aquino keeps up with his yearly tradition of running the government under a fresh spending plan.

"This day is historical. For the fifth time, we are able to pass on time the budget for next year," Aquino said in a speech in Malacañang after the signing of Republic Act 10651 or the 2015 General Appropriations Act.

Next year's budget, which is 15.1 percent higher than 2014, seeks to strengthen fiscal, development, and governance reforms instituted by Aquino administration, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

“We are at the doorstep of the administration’s penultimate year, and the GAA duly reflects President Aquino’s development priorities for 2015. We’re pouring even more investments into the administration’s anti-poverty and economic growth programs, as well as strengthening governance reforms we’ve helmed so far,” Abad said.

Some 62.3 billion will go to the needs of 4.3 million families under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the administration's flagship anti-poverty program.

The government allotted P53.9 billion for basic education facilities, which covers the respective construction and repair of 31,728 classrooms and 9,500 classrooms; development of 13,568 water and sanitation facilities; and the procurement of 1.3 million seats.

Philhealth premium subsidies will receive P37.1 billion to benefit 15.4 million poor and near-poor families.

Some P11 billion, meanwhile, will be directed to socialized housing for in-need families particularly those living in danger zones.

The national budget will also be used for the development of national roads and bridges amounting to P185.8 billion and P10.6 billion to improve the country's railways systems.

Moreover, P89.1 billion will be provided towards bossting agricultural production projects under the Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies and various government-owned or controlled corporations.

Around P14 billion will be put National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, a calamity fund, while another P6.7 billion will be allotted to quick response funds.

A "Build Back Better" program, designed to address the recovery requirements in the aftermath of last year's Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and other calamities, will receive P21.7 billion for 2015.

A large portion of the budget will be distributed among these agencies:

*Department of Education - P367.1 billion
*Department of Public Works and Highways - P303.2 billion
*Department of National Defense - P144.5 billion
*Department of Interior and Local Government - P141.4 billion
*Department of Health - P108.2 billion
*Department of Social Welfare and Development - P103.9 billion
*Department of Agriculture - P89.1 billion
*Department of Transportation and Communications - P59.5 billion
*Department of Environment and Natural Resources - P21.5 billion
*Department of Science and Technology - P13.1 billion

Aquino also signed the P22.4 billion supplemental budget for 2014, bulk of which will be used for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit areas. Of the amount, P7.99 billion will be for the construction of permanent housing for the typhoon victims.

The supplemental budget will also fund pending projects under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Aquino's economic stimulus package whose key aspects were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) in July.

After the signing, former Iloilo representative Augusto Syjuco,Jr. questioned the twin measures before the SC for allegedly going against the high tribunal's rulings against the pork barrel system and DAP.

Syjuco said the national budget has lump sum allocations such as the Special Purpose Funds (P501.67 billion) and the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (P20.9 billion).

The former lawmaker added the President's authority to declare savings at any time of the year is contrary to the Court's ruling on the legality of DAP.

"Savings should be funds remaining from already paid and completed projects or line appropriations. Not considered as savings are programmed appropriations, which have not been released or allotments not obligated due to the fault of the agency concerned," he said. 

Here's President Aquino's speech at the signing of the 2015 National Budget:
Speech of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Philippines For the signing of the 2015 General Appropriations Act

[This is an English translation of the speech delivered at Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace, on December 23, 2014]

This is a historic day. For the fifth year in a row, we have passed the budget for the following year on time. This means that, for each year we have been in office, we have fulfilled our responsibilities and have sent a resounding message: Indeed, our administration has significantly transformed how we perceive what is “normal.” Now, we have made it clear to our people: Our budget is the People’s Budget.
What do we mean when we say it is our People’s Budget?
Simple: It is spending our country’s coffers solely for the benefit of our people, especially those in the margins of society. And this is not just allocating our funds for our Bosses who need them the most; we have also given our people a voice, so that they can influence where their tax money is spent. At the moment, 1,590 cities and municipalities are part of our Bottom-up Budgeting Program. They themselves will say what their communities need; they themselves will design initiatives to respond to those needs; and government will fund those initiatives. The amount of money we have allocated for our Bottom-up Budgeting program so far: 20.9 billion pesos.
Furthermore, beginning last year, our budget was no longer a mere collection of numbers. Now, our budget also clearly indicates our targets. For instance, the Department of Public Works and Highways is aiming to finish paving and restoring all our national roads by 2016, including the 4,219 kilometers of road that will be constructed and rehabilitated this 2015. For the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the target is to support the 4.3 million household beneficiaries of our Conditional Cash Transfer Program. The Department of Tourism, meanwhile, is targeting to increase our international tourist arrivals by 20 percent. Through this system, which is called Performance Informed Budgeting, we have a basis for telling whether our agencies are fulfilling their promises; we can see where our people’s money is going. Above all, we have a way of holding accountable officials who are too slow in delivering public service, and also of recognizing officials who are performing well.
When it comes to rendering public service, a “do it later” mindset is unacceptable. Our countrymen must feel the benefits—right now. We have accelerated the budgeting process; we have significantly reduced the need for the Special Allotment Release Order; once the GAA is signed into law, our agencies’ budgets are good as released. We are also streamlining our processes to minimize opportunities for corruption. Now, heads of agencies must send in requirements as they report on their budget. Those who are unable to fulfill this are met with corresponding sanctions. Apart from this, we have undertaken the Transparency Seal and Open Data Philippines initiatives, which increase our citizens’ wherewithal to promote governance that is more honest and transparent. We are likewise firmly rooted in our principles: Our budget no longer contains the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or PDAF, which had become an instrument of corruption for some opportunists.
We also signed the Supplemental Budget for 2014. In responding to our Bosses’ calls to do away the PDAF from our budget, we took away a source of rackets of some officials who had abused the system. But at the same time, we had to halt the implementation of some projects; some services were discontinued; and certain commitments were not met. Of course, we cannot allow our countrymen, who have enjoyed the benefits of truthful service, to slide back into suffering.
Part of the Supplemental Budget we approved is the more than 10 billion pesos allocated for the reconstruction of areas hit by Yolanda. Of this amount, 7.99 billion pesos was allotted for the construction of permanent housing for our affected countrymen. Let me make clear: This housing initiative follows the Build Back Better principle, which we have been implementing. We are moving our countrymen away from hazard-prone areas; we are designing infrastructure that is more resilient to storms; and we are working to provide alternatives for livelihood to families transferred to better areas. In short, we are not only helping those affected rise once more; we are giving them the opportunity to live safer and more comfortable lives, lives far better than the once they had prior to Yolanda.
We thus thank Secretary Butch Abad and the Department of Budget and Management, and everyone who helped make this day possible. I am certain that many of you went without sleep for many nights, and sacrificed so much, as you focused on every detail in the budget throughout the process. Today, somehow, you will be able to breathe a little bit easier. However, we all know that much work has yet to be done. And thus allow me to encourage you even more: It is my hope that you will remain steadfast in advancing our reform agenda, not only as regards preparing the national budget, but also in further transforming our government and the wider society.
We likewise owe much gratitude to all those in the Legislative branch—under the leadership of Senate President Frank Drilon and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, together with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chiz Escudero and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Sid Ungab—for your hard work and dedication in ensuring that we are once more able to pass the People’s Budget for 2015, as well as the Supplemental Budget of 2014, on time.
Of course, our reforms along the straight path would not have progressed were it not for the solidarity of our Bosses, the people. I extend my deepest gratitude to each and every one of our countrymen, who, in the face of challenges that came one on top of the other, stood firm and exhibited no hesitation in doing their part, as we foster meaningful change in the country.
As we continue to work together and as we celebrate the successes that we have already reached, I am certain that all those who once stole from our nation’s coffers view our progress this day with disappointment. Because of our reforms to ensure that our budget process is transparent and honest, it has become all the more difficult for them to line their pockets with stolen money. Thus, I tell you: we will continue to add to their fear and disappointment. We will not cease our efforts to go after the corrupt, and ensure that they are held accountable to the Filipino people.
On this day, we have signed the People’s Budget for 2015. The contents of this thick volume—each peso, each figure, and each legal provision contained here—symbolize our collective aspirations to uplift our fellowmen, and ensure the continued development of our country. In doing this, we have only remained true to what we promised our Bosses: no one will be left behind, as we tread the straight path to progress.
Let us always remember: The power to effect positive change in our society is not limited to one person or one group alone—each and every Filipino has this power within them. We have already come so far; now that, along the straight path, we have been able to take hold of our destinies, God willing, we will continue to help each other and give each other strength, as we ensure the permanence of the changes sweeping the Philippines.
Thank you, and good day.


Fernando Lachica said...

We're hoping for the best governance for 2015 onwards. Moreover, it has been employed by Pnoy Governance with clarity on purpose, implementation and monitoring. Other government sectors couldn’t enliven their increasing demand for development that needed funding. The resources for their projects were scrutinized by other political observers as unfair when it comes to funding. The Pnoy Administration’s continued to persuade the Filipino people that with this system, the Philippine economy’s constantly increasing due to the fact of its quick funding response.

Leira Pagaspas said...

Another remedy is to initiate and implement law to safeguard the people’s money is to approve the Freedom of Information bill.


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