Under the ratified version of the 2020 General Appropriations Act, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) budget increased from P190 billion to P192 billion while the Philippine National Police (PNP) budget rose from P185.9 billion to P187.6 billion.
The STAR/ File
Police, military to get additional P3 billion in 2020
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The military will get an additional budget of P2.093 billion and police an additional P1.73 billion for next year after the bicameral conference committee of Congress approved the budgets of the two security agencies with the combined additional funding of P3.823 billion.

Under the ratified version of the 2020 General Appropriations Act, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) budget increased from P190 billion to P192 billion while the Philippine National Police (PNP) budget rose from P185.9 billion to P187.6 billion.

The allocations are part of the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for next year.

For the AFP, the bicam increased the budgets of the Navy by P27.485 million, Army by P995 million, Air Force by P500 million, General Headquarters by P175 million, Office of Civil Defense by P15 million and additional P132.8 million for the office of the secretary and P15 million for arsenal purchases.

In the PNP, on the other hand, the budget of maintenance and other operating expenses of police stations nationwide got an additional P101.75 million. The other increases were not specified in the ratified version of the budget.

Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House questioned the increases in the AFP and PNP budgets, which they said could be used to boost anti-insurgency campaign of the government.

“We cannot stomach this national budget that is filled with funds for killings and harassment against the opposition, but is lacking in funds for the welfare of our poor countrymen,” said Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas.

The militant lawmakers specifically assailed the huge budget allocated to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which they said targets the ranks of left-leaning organizations.

During budget deliberations, the bicam realigned funds and added P1 billion each to the appropriations of the AFP and the PNP for their camp development funds. 

The amount was taken from the P5.7-billion budget of the Commission on Elections for next year’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls that were postponed, and the P3.7-billion funding of the Department of Public Works and Highways for deferred road right-of-way projects.   

The modernization of the AFP and PNP is among the priority programs of the Duterte administration.  

The House and Senate also allocated P3 billion for the reconstruction of Marawi City, which had been extensively flattened when security forces drove out Muslim terrorists who had taken over the city in mid-2017.

The fund allocation is part of the calamity fund in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for next year.

However, lawmakers reduced the fund by P4 billion to P16 billion, although the money for Marawi City has been retained.

In his budget proposal, President Duterte had proposed P20 billion for aid, relief and reconstruction in case of calamities.

Residents of Marawi and other parts of Mindanao have been complaining that despite the national leadership’s promises, the city has not recovered from devastation caused by the terrorist siege more than two years ago.

What makes matters worse is that reconstruction funds amounting to more than P4 billion have not been spent, deputy speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said yesterday.

He said the funds are part of the 2019 national budget and their validity will expire at the end of the year.

“The expiration of the appropriations will deny the victims of the 2017 Marawi siege the justice that they have been painstakingly looking for over two years now,” Hataman, former governor of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said.

He pointed out that it is not the fault of Marawi residents if the funds have not been used and would revert to the national treasury by yearend.

Hataman said the Department of Budget and Management and Task Force Bangon Marawi are blaming each other for such failure.

Of the P5.1 billion allocated for the city’s rehabilitation, only P871.7 million, or 17 percent, has been utilized as of last month.

Poor utilization of appropriations is apparently not limited to Marawi but affects other government agencies as well.– With Jess Diaz

AFP MAKABAYAN PNP RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
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