Drilon: 2015 Budget Boosts Social Services
The proposed 2015 national budget will pour nearly P1 trillion into social protection and services, said Senate President Franklin M. Drilon last week as he hailed the government’s continuing focus on the need to make basic needs accessible to all.
For 2015, Drilon said the social service sector will corner 37 percent of the proposed P2.606 trillion budget, equivalent to P967.9 billion, in order to fund programs that will address the immediate needs of the poor. The figure is 15 percent higher than the present allocation of P841.8 billion.
“The next year’s spending program reflects the priorities in the remaining years of the Aquino administration which are to alleviate poverty, provide efficient healthcare and improve the quality of education in the country,” said Drilon. He vowed that the Senate will persistently support programs that will directly benefit the Filipinos.
Drilon said the increased spending for social service sector will go for programs and projects which are aimed at improving the delivery of educational services in the country.
He said the Department of Education (DepEd) will get P365.1 billion, cornering the biggest chunk of the budget. The figure is 17.9 percent higher than its 2014 level of P309.5 billion.
The increase, explained Drilon, is being proposed to capacitate the government’s school building program which is budgeted with P52.9 billion in 2015, an increase of P8.248 billion from its 2014 budget.
“As part of the effort to address classrooms shortage, the government will construct 31,728 new classrooms in 2015 and repair 9,500 dilapidated ones, including those damaged by past calamities like super typhoon ‘Yolanda’,” the Senate leader said. Also, 13,586 water and sanitation facilities will be constructed next year.
On top of this, the Senate chief said the government plans to procure 1.3 million new desks and armchairs and 70.5 million textbooks and instructional materials. It will also boost its teaching force with the hiring of 39,066 teachers next year.
“We should keep on investing in the education of our youth, because a quality education will lead the country to a better future. The people, most especially the youth, is the most important asset our country has to nurture, and part of it is by giving education the highest priority in the budget,” stressed Drilon.
The Senate chief also lauded the continued increase in the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) which is proposed to get P102 billion in 2015 from its current level of P90.8 billion.
“For 2015, more money will go to public hospitals and clinics around the country. The government will allot P13.1 billion for the upgrading of 1,242 barangay health stations, 587 health centers in remote barangays, 128 hospitals in different provinces, 19 DOH-managed hospitals, and 11 treatment and rehabilitation centers,” said Drilon.
“It is only right that the government invests in health infrastructure as the condition of health facilities in the country leaves much to be desired: The government should continue to improve its hospital facilities especially in secluded provinces so that our citizens will receive proper and efficient healthcare.”
He emphasized that as part of its health program, the government will increase the premium subsidy for the National Health Insurance Program to P37.2 billion in 2015 from its present level of P35.3 billion, which will cover 15.4 million households, an increase of 700 beneficiaries from 2014.
Likewise, the Senate chief said the government will increase its budget for the hiring of health personnel by 43 percent, equivalent to P4.3 billion from P3.0 billion.
“For 2015, the government plans to hire additional 398 doctors, 12,540 midwives and 480 dentists to be deployed in different municipalities, cities and health facilities around the country to provide primary healthcare,” he said.
Finally, the social protection package for the poor will continue to receive the priority in the budget. The Department of Social Welfare and Development will get P109 billion in 2015 from its current budget of P83.4 billion.
The increase will go to the continued expansion of the Conditional Cash Transfer program which is allotted P64.7 billion next year – from P62.6 billion this year to benefit 4,309,769 indigent families throughout the country, which include around 4,000 families with no permanent address, 7,000 homeless street families and 116,000 indigenous people. /MP