Pure joy, hope, and peace in 2024



Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

There's something about the end of the year that gives us a glimmer of hope. We may have faced the most severe obstacles or the most heartbreaking events in the year that was—failures, conflicts, the loss of a loved one—but certainly, reaching this point allows us to count and be grateful for the blessings we gained, as a fresh chapter awaits to be unfolded. And so, we begin the new year with the possibility of rejuvenation and growth.

Thus, during the long weekend, I grabbed the opportunity to pause from a hectic but fruitful year—seeking solace in the quiet of my writing room—to note down some things I hope and pray to see in 2024.

First, I wish for the good health and well-being of our President, the members of the Cabinet, including myself, as well as our dear public servants. Running a country entails a lot. Hence, may we continue to have the strength, firm resolve, and passion to serve the country. May we continue to work harmoniously and align our every action for the greater welfare, and to build bridges that will help attain our national goals of peace, prosperity, and sustainable progress—our Bagong Pilipinas.

I likewise wish for brighter prospects for the Philippine economy. We are armed with the first-ever roadmap for our Agenda for Prosperity, the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework which contains our macroeconomic and fiscal targets. These include a 6.5 to 7.5 percent real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2024 and 6.5 to 8.0 percent real GDP growth annually between 2025 to 2028, a single-digit poverty rate by 2028, a 3.0 percent National Government (NG) deficit-to-GDP ratio by 2028, less than 60 percent NG debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025, and attaining upper middle-income status by 2025. Our economy grew by 5.5 percent in the first three quarters of the year, sustaining its position as one of the best-performing economies in the Asia-Pacific region. Further, our corresponding GDP per capita is above pre-pandemic levels. We expect this growth momentum to continue and surpass that of our neighboring countries.

But, though our economy remains steady, we, in the economic team, believe that it is prudent to adopt stringent strategies for both monetary and fiscal policies to ensure inflation rate is steered towards its projected stable low path.

Hence, I have strong faith that we are on the right track to achieving our goals. And, with our national budget passed into law and signed by the President on Dec. 20, 2023, we can hit the ground running in 2024. On day one of work, our government may roll out new and continue existing projects and programs, notably for social protection, for our beneficiaries, especially those who need the most help, to immediately feel their impact.

My hope has always been for our dear country to achieve true and lasting peace, especially in Mindanao. Finding peace begins with ourselves. To build peace, we have to cultivate a culture of empathy, acceptance of our differences, and, most of all, kindness, a virtue that is inherent in us Filipinos.

More importantly, I also hope that our government can immediately help rebuild lives that have been affected by disruptions due to conflicts, especially in my beloved hometown, Marawi City. To realize such aspirations, we endeavor to expedite Marawi City’s rehabilitation and compensation efforts, by empowering existing mechanisms through executive issuances.

On another note, one of the most important lessons that the global pandemic has taught us is the importance of health. Thus, I pray for the healing of those who are sick and suffering from physical, mental, and emotional pain. May they remain strong amid the silent battles they face.

I also hope that our government's primary health packages will benefit more people, especially those from vulnerable communities. I also trust in the upliftment and safety of our health workers—our modern-day heroes and medical frontliners. I believe that the almost ₱20 billion allocation set in 2024 for healthcare workers' allowances and Covid-19 compensation will assist them. I also hope that they will continue their selfless service to our kababayans.

I wish for pure joy in every Filipino's heart and mind. Indeed, life is tough. But may it not dampen our dreams and goals. We have to acknowledge our disappointments, hurt feelings, and grief to soldier on, for we have loved ones and other people to take care of.

May our faith prosper, and may we not lose the compassion, generosity, and positivity to achieve pure joy that will inspire and help others. May the radiance of love be our light.
It is a tradition for us Filipinos to wish each other "Masaganang Bagong Taon." In the English language, masagana means prosperous—to have an abundant New Year. Hence, I wish for all to receive and experience the blessings that the year offers. 

And, as we enter the new year, I hope that we can cherish priceless moments with our family and loved ones, whether we're together physically or separated by many miles. May the comfort and warmth of family be our source of strength and hope to face new or ongoing struggles.

Beyond budget, as the year begins, so do new challenges to conquer and exciting journeys to embark on. May this year bring hope and purposeful meaning to our lives, with kindness as our foundation. May we all be inspired to do good and be great in 2024. 

Have a joyful New Year to all!


(Amenah F. Pangandaman is the current Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management.)