Duterte 2021 budget: Billions for AFP modernization, zero for modernization of health and education

The Communist Party of the Philippines rejects and denounces the anti-people P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021 which Rodrigo Duterte signed today. The budget reflects the regime’s perverse priorities amid the pandemic.

Instead of giving top priority to health, it earmarked the largest funds to fund Duterte’s corruption-laden infrastructure projects. The regime also provided hefty increases to the budget of its military and police in order to heighten its suppression campaign against the Filipino people.

In particular, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is set to receive a P19-billion budget for 2021 (3,000% increase from this year) despite mounting calls for it to be defunded.

The regime also appropriated P38 billion for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program which will be used to beef up its fascist arsenal in a vain attempt to decimate the revolutionary movement before the end of Duterte’s term. Similarly, the Philippine Army, Air Force and Navy will receive a total increase of P1.6 billion.

Initial estimates also indicate that nearly a fourth of the budget or more than P1 trillion will be spent to railroad Build, Build, Build projects. As in previous years, rotten politicians will treat infrastructure funds as pork barrel and be used to siphon huge kickbacks and for politicking in anticipation of the 2022 elections. Majority of these projects are lodged under the Department of Public Works and Highways which is set to receive a budget of P694.8 billion for 2021 (113.9 billion increase from this year). This includes the P68 billion worth of “skeletal” infrastructure projects or structures which remain incomplete despite being funded millions in previous years.

In stark contrast, the regime did not allocate a single centavo to fund the urgent need for modernization of health and education.

It appropriated only a measly P6.497 billion for the enhancement of the country’s deteriorating health facilities and P15.7 billion for the hiring of additional health workers on top of other token health programs. Only ₱2 billion has been allocated for the procurement of vaccines. The supposed ₱70-billion budget is classified as an “unprogrammed appropriation” which means there is no guarantee that enough vaccines will be purchased. Instead, the regime is now scrambling for more foreign loans for acquiring vaccines.

In utter contempt of students’ plight, the regime slashed the P754.4-billion budget proposal submitted by education agencies by P46.3 billion. The amount could have been used to ensure the safe reopening of schools.

Facing widening budget deficit, the Duterte regime will certainly utilize the continuing pandemic crisis to obtain onerous foreign loans under the guise of stimulating the economy to fund his fascist and corrupt agenda. This is bound to further aggravate the Filipino people’s plight as they will be made to shoulder payments in the form of new and higher taxes.

Duterte 2021 budget: Billions for AFP modernization, zero for modernization of health and education