THE DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) expects to transmit to Congress the proposed P5.024-trillion National Expenditure Program for 2022 by the deadline of Aug. 23.

In a Viber message Monday, DBM Officer-in-Charge and Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie L. Canda said President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the proposed spending plan before Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado went on medical leave, which runs from Aug. 2 to Aug. 13.

She said the agency is currently finalizing the accompanying documentation before submitting it to Congress.

DBM is required to submit the budget proposal 30 days after the President delivers the State of the Nation Address, which this year took place on July 26.

Next year’s budget will continue supporting the government’s pandemic response, with spending items like the procurement of test kits, the hiring of medical workers, the establishment of the Virology Institute of the Philippines and sustained implementation of other health programs.

The budget also includes funding for possible vaccine booster shots should they be required.

In a statement Monday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon has asked for the Executive department to allocate more funds to social services.

He said funds for social services have been on a downtrend since 2018 when they fell 2.4%. In 2019 and 2020 they declined 0.3% in 2019 and 1.1% respectively.

For this year, Mr. Drilon said funding rose by only 0.5%.

He noted that defense spending has been growing each year since 2018.

“The continuing COVID-19 pandemic, growing budget deficit and skyrocketing national debt should make the government reconsider its defense spending for 2022, including the allocation for its heavily-criticized anti-insurgency funds,” he said.

“Because of our limited resources, the government needs to downsize its defense spending for next year in favor of the much-needed ayuda and other social and health services,” he added. — Beatrice M. Laforga