MANILA

Palace justifies Office of the President's 2020 budget proposal

THE proposed P8.2-billion budget for President Rodrigo Duterte's office next year would be used to free the country from "local and international threats," Malacañang said on Tuesday, August 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement as he defended Duterte's move to ask for an P8.2-billion budget for 2020, higher than the P6.7-billion allocation this year.

"The Palace reiterates that the increase in the budget of the Office of the President (OP), where the seat of power and supremacy in governance lies, is necessary in order to provide efficient, meaningful and effective public service to the Filipino people," the Palace official said.

"The additional amount is also necessary to secure the country from threats coming from sources within and without the country," he added.

The proposed 2020 allocation for Duterte's office is over P5 billion more than the P2.87 billion budget of his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III, in 2016.

Citing the remarks of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Panelo that the "lower" budget of Aquino's office in 2016 led to a grave repercussion, as "there was little to no substantial improvement in governance" of the past administration.

Panelo noted that bringing "genuine" change to the country would need "necessary financial support."

"We recall that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, during last year’s budget hearing was asked if P2.5 billion was enough for the Office of the President, and he categorically answered that it should be substantially increased as it was not enough," he said.

"The Palace seconds the Executive Secretary's position on the matter, knowing that with the strong resolve of the President to pursue programs and policies that will finally bring genuine change to the nation, we will need the necessary financial support," he added.

Some P4.5 billion of the OP's proposed 2020 budget will be used for confidential and intelligence activities, which are each allotted P2.25 billion, higher than the P1.25 billion each for this year.

Panelo stressed that the government's intensified efforts, with the Office of the President at the helm, to fight criminality and other threats against the Philippines' security and sovereignty "have indeed created a changed environment in [the] society where the people feel safe as they go about living their daily lives."

"The people have seen and experienced in the three years of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s presidency, an unprecedented success in many fronts, especially in the aspect of law and order, as well as in the overall public administration of the government," he said.

"We intend to maintain such an environment and even improve it in the remaining years of the Duterte Presidency," Panelo added.

Panelo likewise said that Duterte's office would extend a "helping hand" in case concerned agencies have no sufficient funds to provide assistance to the public.

"In times of national emergencies and calamities, coupled with cries for help from all walks of life, and when the departments and agencies that provide basic services or responses to the public run short of funds, the OP steps in to extend a helping hand and augment whatever shortage there may be in delivering the requisite assistance," he said. (SunStar Philippines)


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