(UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed into law the proposed P4.5 trillion national budget, designed to uplift the Philippines from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The spending plan will arm the government with funds to boost its pandemic response and to help the market recover from its first recession in decades.
"The prompt ratification of the 21 national budget is a testament to our commitment to set aside divisive, partisan politics," Duterte said in his speech during the signing ceremony.
"At the crucial juncture in history, we can no longer engage in politics of division, hate and finger-pointing."
Among those present in the budget signing ceremony were Senate President Vicente Sotto III, House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senator Bong Go, and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado among others.
Duterte said "every centavo of this budget must be spent to ensure the nation's recovery, resilience, and sustainability."
Gross domestic product shrank for two successive quarters, wiping out gains that took years, even decades to achieve, as the country was plunged into one of the world's longest and strictest quarantines.
Duterte's economic managers are hoping to revive the economy in 2021 as vaccines roll out worldwide. The Philippines is hoping to start its immunization program in late March.
The 2021 national budget, according to ACTS-CIS party list Rep. Eric Go Yap, chair of the House budget-writing committee, contains allocations geared towards the country's recovery from COVID-19:
- Additional P2 billion for the procurement of personal protective equipment
- Additional P434.4 million for the health department's Health Facilities Enhancement Program
- Additional P462 million for the Department of Health’s Medical Health Assistance Program
- Additional P100 million for the DOH's mental health program
- Additional P3.177 billion for Department of Labor and Employment, mainly to help displaced workers.
As mandated by law, the Department of Education gets the biggest share of the national budget. Here are the allocations per agency:
- Department of Education - P708.18 billion
- Department of Public Works and Highways - P694.82 billion
- Department of Health - P287.47 billion
- Department of the Interior and Local Government - P247.50 billion
- Department of National Defense - P205.47 billion
- Department of Social Welfare and Development - P176.65 billion
- Department of Transportation - P87.44 billion
- Department of Agriculture - P68.62 billion
- Judiciary - P44.10 billion
- Department of Labor and Employment - P36.60 billion