By Genalyn Kabiling, August 17, 2021; Manila Bulletin

The Duterte government will seek the swift passage of a proposed ₱5.024 trillion national budget for next year to sustain its pandemic response, social services, infrastructure development, among others.

The bulk of the proposed 2022 budget, endorsed by President Duterte, will go to social services sector with almost ₱2 trillion allocation, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

“Ang proposed para sa susunod na taon ay nasa ₱5.024 trillion, ang pinakamataas na budget sa ating kasaysayan (The proposed national budget is ₱5.024 trillion, the biggest budget in our history),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Tuesday, August 17.

He noted that the proposed 2022 national expenditure program, equivalent to 22.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, is currently being finalized and printed. It will be formally submitted to Congress on Monday, August 23.

The 2022 budget proposal will be 11.5 percent higher than this year’s ₱4.5 trillion expenditure program.

Under the proposed national budget, Roque said social services sector will receive ₱1.922 trillion next year, or 38.3 percent of the proposed outlay. This budget will be used for health-related services such as implementaiton of the universal health care program, purchase of coronavirus vaccines, procurement of personal protective equipment, among others.

The economic services sector will get the second highest allocation with ₱1.474 trillion. This sector, Roque said, includes the implementation of flagship projects under the government’s Build Build Build infrastructure program.

Around ₱862.7 billion will go to general public services while ₱541.3 billion will be used to pay the country’s debts. The defense sector will receive ₱224.4 billion next year.

In terms of proposed budget for key government agencies, the Department of Education, state colleges and universities and the Commission on Higher Education will get the biggest allocation with ₱773.6 billion.

The Department of Public Works and Highways will receive ₱686.1 billion, followed by Department of Interior and Local Government, ₱250.4 billion; Department of Health, ₱242 billion; Department of National Defense, ₱222 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development, ₱191.4 billion; Department of Transportation, ₱151.3 billion, Department of Agriculture and National Irrigation Administration, ₱103.5 billion, and Department of Labor and Employment, ₱44.9 billion.