Drilon to gov't: Reconsider huge defense spending amid growing budget deficit, national debt—

Published August 10, 2021, 12:01 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has urged state economic managers to reconsider allocating huge funds for the security sector for next year amid the “skyrocketing” national debt and a growing budget deficit.

Drilon said he is dismayed at the negative growth in the social services sector while the share of the defense sector continues to increase throughout the Duterte administration.

“It cannot be the norm again next year, if we want to fast-track our economic recovery and lift our people out of poverty, hunger and unemployment,” Drilon said.

“Because of our limited resources, the government needs to downsize its defense spending for next year in favor of the much-needed social amelioration program (ayuda) and other social and health services,” he reiterated.

Citing government data, the minority leader lamented that since 2018, the social services sector has suffered a negative growth—from a three percent growth in 2017 to -2.4 in 2018, -0.3 in 2019, -1.1 in 2020, and marginally increased by only 0.5 percent in 2021.

On the other hand, the budget share of the defense sector continues to be on an upward trend, increasing in 2018 by 0.2 percent, in 2020 by 0.4 percent, and in 2021 by 0.2 percent, when the country is still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even if the national budget kept growing over the years, the percent share of social services to the national budget didn’t grow along with it and has in fact suffered decreases,” he noted.

For instance, despite the controversies hounding the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the senator noted the government is bent on giving it additional funding to the tune of P30-billion to P40-billion.

While the NTF-ELCAC is assured of funds, Drilon said the government was forced to scrimp and get funding for its social amelioration program from other worthy projects.

The lawmaker insisted it is imperative to increase the budgets of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Health (DOH) and beef up its COVID-19 spending.

He also said additional budget should be given to Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to address unemployment and to the Department of Education (DepEd) to strengthen the country’s education sector.

“We need to include a substantial amount of funds for ‘ayuda’ in the next year’s budget and vaccine procurement,” he said.

“I hope the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has allocated funds for ‘ayuda’ and vaccine procurement in the to-be-submitted National Expenditure Program (NEP),” he said.

“The 2022 budget should not be a repeat of the 2021 (national) budget where there’s no sufficient funds for pandemic response and recovery programs including ‘ayuda’ and vaccine-procurement,” he pointed out.