Multitrillion budget for dictatorship

Budget for peace and development—this was how the US-Duterte regime described its proposed P4.1-trillion budget for 2020. This is far from reality as the multitrillion budget is bound to be corrupted and will be used to fund anti-people programs and projects, and to intensify fascism.

The proposed P4.1-trillion budget for 2020 is 12% higher than the P3.662-trillion budget for 2019. The budget increase was based on the government’s projected 6.5-7.5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2020, a target that it will certainly fail to reach amid the production decline in various economic sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing. In fact, the GDP declined to 5.5% which is the lowest in the past 17 quarters.

The said budget will primarily be funded by tax revenues. The Duterte regime estimates that tax revenues, including additional taxes imposed under the TRAIN law among others, will increase to P3.54 trillion. This is 12.3% higher than the P3.15-trillion tax revenue collection in 2019. However, the regime will still have borrow heavily as the revenue is short by P677 billion.

In sum, the government is set to loan up to P1.4 trillion in 2020. By the end of 2019, the national outstanding debt is expected to reach P7.853 trillion. By 2020, it is expected to peak at P8.767 trillion. Consequently, the net debt per capita of every Filipino is expected to balloon to P72,518 and P79,780 in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The president and his minions’ pork barrel

The proposed 2020 budget is riddled with anomalies. Of the P4.1 trillion-budget, only P2.36 trillion is allocated for government agencies and departments. The remaining P1.73 trillion will go to the “special purpose fund,” or the lump sums in the budget dubbed the “presidential pork barrel” as its utilization is under the personal control of the president. For every P10 that the government will spend in 2020, P4 can be considered as Duterte’s personal funds.

Anomalous projects, which are commonly the source lawmakers’ hefty kickbacks, have been overtly placed in the proposal. Part of this is the P972.5-billion allocation for the “Build, Build, Build” program to fund infrastructure projects already awarded to his favored bureaucrats and bourgeois compradors.

It also includes other projects which have long been used as milking cows by politicians such as road construction and “repair” projects. Among these are the proposed construction of a 338.3-kilometer road network, which is equal to the distance between Manila and Naga City. Another suspicious allocation is the P16.9-billion fund for the “preventive maintenance” of 955 kilometers of road networks (equal to the distance between Baguio City and Hongkong). The “preventive maintenance” will certainly serve as corrupt officials’ lucrative source of kickbacks under the guise of road repairs.

Irrigation projects are another source of huge kickbacks. Around P36.3 billion is allocated for national and communal irrigation projects, while P2.2 billion is allocated for small irrigation projects. Majority of these projects are not delivered, and funds for these are often just pocketed by congressmen and local government officials. A large chunk of funds is also allocated for the construction of a national irrigation systems, even if some of these have been long been opposed by the people. These include the P919-million Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Stage II, the P890-million Balog-balog Multipurpose Project in Isabela, the P800-million Lower Agno River Irrigation System Extension Project in Pangasinan, and the P500-million Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Pr­o­­­ject Phase II in North Cotabato.

The 2020 budget proposal also includes the construction of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project which is vehemently being opposed by minority peoples residing at the project site. It will be mainly funded using Chinese loans.

Funds for fascism

Aside from corruption, the Duterte regime has also increased it budget for intensified fascism.

The budget of the Philippine National Police further increased from P173.5 billion this 2019 to P184.9 billion in 2020. Part of this is the P3 billion for the recruitment of 10,000 new police operatives and P14.4 billion that will be used to help fill up 26,685 positions in the PNP.

Another P546 million is alloted for the PNP’s implementation of the despised “war on drugs,” and an additional P1.4 billion for agencies such as the Department of Interior and Local Government, which totals to P1.9 billion in Oplan Tokhang budget.

The Department of National Defense budget will also increase from P183.9 billion this 2019 to P189 billion in 2020. Approximately P25 billion will be used for the second round of procurement of war matériel under the Revised AFP Modernization Plan. Among those set to be procured by the AFP are additional secondhand vessels, radar and surveillance systems, attack helicopters and planes and other military equipment for counter-insurgency.

Another P522 million is allocated to various agencies for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. The fund will be used to intensify the suppression and intimidation against civilian communities using the military and police’s “whole-of-nation approach.”

There are also projects which aim to enhance the reactionary state’s intelligence capacity. Among these is the P20-million allocation for Project D.I.M.E. (Digital Imaging for Monitoring and Evaluation) which will be used for the procurement of drones, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems, and other equipment purportedly for monitoring the the delivery of projects in the countryside, but are actually for the intensification of surveillance in hinterland communities.

Aside from these projects, confidential and intelligence funds particularly for the Office of the President (OP) will also balloon to P4.5 billion in 2020. In sum, more than P8.28 billion is allocated to various agencies for confidential and intelligence expenses. This is the source of funds for government’s various “black operations” such as maintaining death squads and perpetrating other heinous attacks against the people.