Rodrigo Duterte has finally signed on December 28, 2020 the ₱4.5 trillion national budget for 2021 which its critics call a budget for corruption and fascism.
Almost a fourth of the budget (₱1.1 trillion) was allocated to infrastructure projects, while less than 4% (₱200 billion) was allocated to pandemic response, raising the capacity of health system, and the procurement of vaccines.
A huge chunk of funds was allocated to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (₱38 billion) program and intelligence and confidential operations (₱9.5 billion). Although there were talks of junking the ₱19.1 billion budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, it retained its budget in the final version of the national budget.
On the other hand, Duterte vetoed the provisions on the allocation of budget to procure additional beds for public hospitals; grant teachers with transportation and learning aid allowance; relocation of residents to be displaced by infrastructure projects; feeding program for children, and other basic services.
He also vetoed the provision which would oblige his office to submit a quarterly report to Congress on how his office spent its intelligence funds.
Meanwhile, Duterte appropriated ₱560 bilyon to pay the debts which he accumulated in the past months. Philippine public debt has already reached ₱10.2 trillion as of November 2020.
Measly funds for vaccination
Despite Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated declaration that only a vaccine will save the country from the pandemc, he has actually allocated only ₱2.5 billion for its procurement. An additional ₱70 billion will be raised from government loans and tax revenues which are yet to be collected. This week, there have been reports on Duterte plan to once again borrow a total of ₱30 billion from the Asian Development Bank and World Bank to buy vaccines. This is despite the regime’s underspending as it has only utilized 8% of the ₱5 billion it loaned from World Bank earlier in April to purportedly fight the pandemic.
Due to the lack of a centralized plan and budget, many local government officials were compelled to declare that will just buy their own vaccines which they will distribute to their constituents. Instead of addressing the shortage on its own, it passed on the responsibility of procuring 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines (United Kingdom) to capitalists, and requested 200,000 doses for its own use. An additional two million doses of vaccines will also be shouldered by the private sector.