Duterte jacks up Budget to fight crime

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a sharp increase in next year's national Budget to fund his controversial war on crime, with security forces to get big pay rises.

The political outsider swept to a landslide election victory in May and immediately implemented an anti-drug crackdown that has seen police and vigilantes kill over 1,000 people, according to media tallies.

In announcing a 3.35 trillion peso (S$97.1 billion) 2017 Budget, up 11.6 per cent from this year, Mr Duterte said late on Monday that a top priority for the increased government spending would be "more effective crime suppression".

The police budget will increase by 24.6 per cent to 110.4 billion pesos, with the money to be spent on hiring more officers, raising their salaries and buying them more guns, according to a government statement. The judiciary's budget will rise by 21.5 per cent to help them handle more cases, it said.

Mr Duterte is also planning a 15 per cent rise in the military budget, to 130.6 billion pesos.

The education sector will still have the biggest proposed allocation, as mandated by the Constitution, with 699.95 billion pesos, or 20.9 per cent of the total budget.

In a message to Congress, Mr Duterte said the Budget would give "flesh and bone" to his campaign promise to bring change "here and now".

According to projections by Bloomberg, the 2017 Budget could widen the government's deficit to 478.1 billion pesos or 3 per cent of GDP, from a projected 2.7 per cent this year.

The first Duterte budget continues the double-digit annual rises seen during the term of predecessor Benigno Aquino. Congress has to approve the Budget, but this is widely expected to be a formality due to Mr Duterte's allies forming a large majority in both chambers.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte jacks up Budget to fight crime'. Print Edition | Subscribe