abriela Women’s Party (GWP) described the P3.767-trillion 2018 national budget as a “demolition budget” with its heavy emphasis on big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program.
On the first day of the budget deliberations, GWP Rep. Arlene Brosas said while the 2018 budget allocates P1.097 trillion for the BBB program which includes construction of railways, roads, and airports, only P625 million is allotted for the National Housing Authority’s (NHA) resettlement programs and only P774 million for the High-Density Housing Program of the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SFHC).
“Nearly a third of the P3.767-trillion 2018 budget is allotted for big infrastructure projects that is expected to sweep communities from Luzon to Mindanao. At least P48 billion is allocated for right of way acquisitions alone, but none for resettlement of affected communities. We fear that this ‘demolition national budget’ will only exacerbate the displacement and homelessness of poor Filipino families,” said Brosas.
“While the blueprint and funding for the BBB program is lucid in the 2018 budget, the Duterte administration has no definite plan at all to address the huge 5.7 million housing backlog. Only P1.4 billion, or less than 1% of the national budget is allocated for housing programs for poor families, which is expected to produce only 6,101 housing units. How can this national budget be transformative if it perpetuates the sorry state of housing in the country?” Brosas added.
GWP also expressed fears that the High-Density Housing Program of SHFC and NHA’s resettlement program will be just another milking cow by private contractors who will collect amortization fees from penniless families.
No sustainable job generation
For her part, GWP Rep. Emmi De Jesus said the 2018 national budget is a rehash of the decades-old development agenda that hinges on neoliberal policies on investment promotion and private sector support without radically transforming the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
“It is said that the Duterte administration’s 2018 budget is a budget that reforms and transforms. But this rings hollow considering its failure to deviate from the policy track of previous administrations, relying merely on investment promotion and infrastructure. Wala pa ring klarong plano on national industrialization and agricultural reform na siyang magtitiyak ng maraming disenteng trabaho para sa mga kababaihan at Pilipino,” De Jesus said.
The lawmaker added that the 2018 budget has no clear strategy to absorb around 26.9 million Filipinos, who are out of the labor force and most of which are women, into productive economic sectors.
“The huge allocation for the long list of infrastructure projects will never solve the jobs crisis in the long term, as jobs in these projects are generally temporary and low-paying. Dapat ay ilaan ang isang trilyong ito sa pagtatayo ng mga batayang industriya ng bansa at sapat na suporta sa agrikultura,” De Jesus ended. #