Marcos signs P5.768-T outlay for 2024

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Marcos signs P5.768-T outlay for 2024
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signs the national budget for 2024 in a ceremony, December 20, 2023.
Screengrab from RTVM

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has signed the P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, a spending plan 9.5% higher than last year with significant bumps in allocations for defense and peace and order.

During the signing of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) on Wednesday, Marcos said in a speech that the 2024 budget represents the government’s “renewal of our annual social contract with taxpayers that what they have paid faithfully will be rebated to them in full.”

Marcos added that the 2024 budget will focus on “fighting poverty and combatting illiteracy, in producing food and ending hunger, in protecting our homes and securing our border, treating the sick, keeping our people healthy, creating jobs, and funding livelihoods.”

The national spending plan that made it to the hands of the president included hefty increases in the budget of the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other government agencies focusing on peace and order, according to the bicameral report presented by Senate finance panel chairperson Sen. Sonny Angara to the plenary last week.

A month before, House Speaker Martin Romualdez similarly said that Congress had agreed to boost the defense budget with additional outlay to land, air and naval forces defense programs.

This is on top of the billions worth of confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) that Congress stripped from civilian agencies and realigned to agencies in charge of national security and protecting the country's territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea.

Vice President Sara Duterte’s two offices — the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education — were among the agencies to have lost their proposed CIFs, which Angara said no lawmaker attempted to restore during the closed-door meetings of the bicameral conference. 

Unlike last year, Duterte was not present at the budget signing ceremony, which is typically attended by all top-ranking government officials. 

‘Spend budget for correct purposes’

During the signing of the budget, Marcos called on the government to ensure that the budget — taken from taxpayers’ money — is spent for their intended purposes. 

“How I wish that we have unli revenues to witness our country's unlimited potential,” Marcos said.

“Like any government, we are curtailed by what we can collect, by what our tax coffers convey. We can be reckless, take the easy path, borrow, let our children pick today's tab up tomorrow. But that's not the kind of inheritance we want to leave those who will come after us,” he added. 

The president said that being fiscally responsible entails the “discipline not to be led into the temptation of gloating what we owe.”

“Good governance dictates the duty to spend the appropriations we have cobbled together for the correct purposes, the right way, on time and on budget,” Marcos said.

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