MANILA, DECEMBER 15, 2011 (REUTERS) President Benigno Aquino signed into law on Thursday the 2012 national budget of P1.816 trillion ($41.2 billion), up 10.4% from 2010, and officials said pump priming aimed at boosting growth will start early in January.

The Southeast Asian country, criticised for its weak spending that pulled down overall economic growth so far this year, aims to kick-start 2012 expenditures with at least P140 billion worth of infrastructure projects to be rolled out as early as Jan. 2.

"In contrast to 2011, when infrastructure spending was delayed, we intend to begin 2012 on a very strong note," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement, adding notices to proceed with infrastructure projects could be issued in January.

"The swiftness of the budget signing also means that government can hit the ground running with its programmes, starting with key infrastructure projects." Abad said.

Aquino's budget signing was the earliest by any president since the 1986 "people power" revolt that toppled the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, a reflection of the strong support enjoyed by Aquino in Congress.

Most budget approvals in previous years, particularly under the administration of Aquino's predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, were stalled by bickering in Congress.

Aquino vetoed a move to impose caps on public sector debt to allow the government room to manage its finances and support growth. Public sector debt at the end of 2010 was 73.3% of GDP, above the limit set by Congress in the spending bill.

Abad said Manila would continue to use next year unspent funds from the 2011 budget allotted for infrastructure-related projects that were delayed by revisions, documentary requirements and approvals.

Manila has forecast growth of 5% to 6% in 2012, slightly faster than this year's growth goal of 4.5% to 5.5%.

Next year's budget assumed a fiscal deficit of P286 billion pesos or 2.6% of GDP, lower than this year's fiscal gap target of P300 billion or 3% of GDP.


Message of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III President of the Philippines To The Fifteenth Congress of the Philippines On the Budget for 2012 [July 26, 2011]

Ladies and Gentlemen of the 15th Congress of the Philippines:

Through the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, I have the honor to submit, for your consideration, the proposed National Budget for 2012.


Last year, you gave your overwhelming support for the 2011 National Budget, this administration’s first financial blueprint. You diligently and meticulously scrutinized the same, while making sure that it is enacted before the Fiscal Year 2011 started: the first time in over a decade.

But that timeliness meant not only promptness: it also meant relevance. It reflected your belief that the programs we proposed are able to respond to the immediate and pressing needs of our people, while making sure that our long-term agenda for reform is on track. And I laud you, the men and women of Congress, not only for enacting the current year’s budget on time but also for giving this administration a stable first footing by supporting the 2011 Reform Budget.

Our pursuit of reform in the long-term cannot blind us from our people’s current concerns. In other words, change also has to be felt now.

This administration was hoisted to power by the overwhelming mandate of our people, fatigued by the preponderance of corruption and abuse of power. They have expressed their deep yearning for Philippine society to be transformed into one that truly empowers them to pursue their aspirations for themselves, their families, their communities and the country. Through People Power via the ballot, they have demonstrated their longing to be emancipated from poverty and helplessness through honest and effective governance.

This is the core inspiration by which this administration crafted the 2012 National Expenditure Program that I am hereby proposing to Congress: to deepen the reforms we are setting in place; to go one notch higher in our fight against corruption and our pursuit of good governance, in poverty reduction, and in employment generation from inclusive and sustained economic growth.

Noong nakaraang taon, tinangkilik po ninyo ang aming pakay na tahakin ang landas Tungo sa Paggugol na Matuwid.

Sa paparating na taon, hinihikayat ko po kayong patuloy na sumama at lumahok sa biyaheng ito: sa pagsiguro na ang benepisyo ng Paggugol na Matuwid ay nakatutok sa ating mga prayoridad at Diretso sa Tao.



RP’s newest warship deployed soon in West Philippine Sea By Mario J. Mallari 12/15/2011

The Philippine Navy will deploy its newest warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which was officially commissioned yesterday along with a Philippine-made landing craft, in the disputed West Philippine Sea, before Christmas Day.

Capt. Alberto Cruz, who will take charge of the first ever Hamilton class cutter of the Navy, said they will steam to the West Philippine Sea where the disputed Kalayaan Islands Groups (KIGs) are situated, before Christmas Day.

Cruz will lead 11 other Navy officers and 88 enlisted personnel in manning the BRP Gregorio del Pilar which was acquired from the United States Coast Guard last August.

Aside from BRP Gregorio del Pilar, also commissioned was Philippine-made landing craft utility BRP Tagbanua. BRP Pagasa was also renamed back to its traditional name BRP Ang Pangulo, the presidential yacht. The event has the Commander in Chief President Aquino as guest of honor.

Aquino’s sisters, Maria Elena Aquino-Cruz, Victoria Elisa Aquino-Dee and Aurora Corazon Aquino-Abellada also graced the event as sponsors to the christening of BRP Gregorio del Pilar, BRP Tagbanua and a newly refurbished helicopter donated to the Navy by the Department of Tourism.

For his part, Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Adm. Alexander Pama reiterated that the addition of BRP Gregorio del Pilar to the Navy fleet “is not only a realization of one of our dreams but also the symbol and icon of our capability upgrade and modernization program.”

“She will now steam and as the vanguard of your Navy as she now leads our fleet in fulfilling our obligation to secure our maritime nation’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and protect our exclusive economic zone,” Pama said.

Pama thanked the President for his continued support to the Navy’s capability upgrade program.

The Navy is hoping to acquire two more Hamilton-class cutter and helicopters next year as part of its modernization.

The Aquino government has allotted P10 billion for military upgrade next year.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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