Marcos Jr's 2024 proposed budget Large funds for fascism and extravagance

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Amid people’s gross suffering due to incessant price increase and plummeting economy, the US-Marcos regime’s proposed budget teems with trillions of pesos of funds to line the pockets of a few, especially high bureaucrats, cronies and their families.

The regime’s claims that the ₱5.768 trillion 2024 national budget is “pro-poor” is a big lie. In truth, the regime persistently scrimps on services and people’s needs, while allotting colossal amounts of funds to support corporate and military profits. Token social support is being ultrahyped to obscure how meager these are relative to the extent and scope of current problems.

Budget for all-out fascism

While the regime brags that the largest portion the proposed budget will go to basic services, it cannot conceal the enormity of additional funds for the military.

The biggest is the 21.6% increase in the defense budget to ₱282.7 billion from the current ₱232.5 billion.

This budget includes the ₱50 billion for the Armed Forces of the Philippines “modernization”, which is 82% higher than last year. This will go to the purchase of military matériel, mostly second-hand equipment from the US, like multi-role fighters, radars, ships, missile systems, helicopters, drones and bombs for the next five years. These mostly are used against civilians and communities in the AFP’s counter-revolutionary war in the countrysides.

The proposed budget also includes the ₱9.7 billion for the NTF-Elcac, of which ₱1.08 billion will be for the police, and ₱8.64 billion for “Barangay Development Program.” It has long been exposed that these funds go straight into the pockets of AFP and PNP officials, and also used to sow terror against peasant masses and minorities.

In addition, retired soldiers and police are like parasites who continue to suck public funds. The planned ₱129.82 billion 2024 pension funds is larger than the entire budget of only ₱108.5 billion for agriculture.

Scrimping social services

While pouring funds to the police and military, funds are grossly lacking for social services.

Next year, funds for social services will be cut extensively. The Department of Education (DepEd) is touted to receive the largest budget increase, these will accrue only to offices directly under Sara Duterte. Other DepEd attached agencies, including the National Book Development Board, National Council for Children’s Television, National Museum of the Philippines, Philippine High School for the Arts, Early Childhood Care and Development Council, and the National Academy of Sports, will see their budgets cut.

There are also large budget cuts in agencies providing economic and social services. These include the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Migrant Workers.

The health sector will suffer a big blow in 2024 with the close to ₱10 billion cut in the DoH budget. All in all, health will only receive ₱481 billion, or 8% of the whole national budget.

Agencies that will suffer budget cuts include the Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney & Transplant Institute, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and the Philippine Heart Center.

Funds for the Department of Social Work and Development’s “emergency assistance programs” to extend assistance to Filipinos in dire need, will also be cut by almost ₱28 billion.

Up to 30 state universities and colleges will have budget cuts in 2024.

Trillions in discretionary funds

The national budget is Marcos Jr’s veritable personal bank as he directly controls almost half, or 43%, of it. This means he can very easily juggle nearly ₱2.5 trillion in next year’s funds, whenever he wants or for whatever purposes.

“Automatic appropriations”, “special purpose funds” and CIF can all be considered presidential “pork barrel” funds because, in the first place, congress has no control over these funds.

The largest chunk of Marcos’ pork barrel is the so-called “Special Purpose Funds” (SPF) or “lump sum” budget. Up to ₱733 billion are considered SPF in 2024. A large SPF item is the “Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund” (MPBF), which will increase by an eye-popping 409% from the present ₱26.6 billion to ₱135.7 billion next year.

The special provision on the use of the MPBF states that it can be used for “deficiencies in authorized salaries, bonuses, allowances, associated premiums and other similar personnel benefits of National Government personnel, including Personnel Services requirements for the filling and creation of positions as may be authorized by law, the President of the Philippines, or the DBM.”

With the large increase for MPBF, Marcos ensures the salaries and bonuses of his regime’s highest officials, including himself.

Marcos Jr’ cronies and allies will also be indulged by the large increase in the proposed budget. Up to ₱1.418 trillion will go to the despicable “Build Better More” infrastructure program drooled over by his family’s billionaire cohorts for its large kickbacks.

Large funds for fascism and extravagance