Speech by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the ceremonial signing of the General Appropriations Act for the Fiscal Year 2024

Speeches 20 December 2023

Dapat kayo ang pinapalakpakan ko, kibitzer lang ako. Kayo nag-trabaho nito. [Please, please take your seats.]

Thank you to our Executive Secretary, chief Lucas Bersamin for his kind introduction.

The Senate President, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, the honorable members of the Senate; House Speaker Martin Romualdez and the honorable members of the House of Representatives; the Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Most Reverend Charles John Brown and the esteemed members of the diplomatic corps; DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman and the honorable members of the Cabinet. I reminded Amenah that she should not get used to the number at the bottom of the budget, because it’s not going to be around for very, very long. Uubusin natin lahat ‘yan. [laughter]; my fellow workers in government; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.

Good afternoon to all of you!

Today, we sign the national budget, the instrument which tells how the taxes paid by the people will be returned to them.

In effect, we are signing the renewal of our annual social contract with taxpayers: that what they have paid faithfully will be rebated to them in full.

Although it is teeming with numbers, this budget is more than a spreadsheet of amounts or a ledger of projects.

Rather, it details our battle plan in fighting poverty and combatting illiteracy, in producing food and ending hunger, in protecting our homes, in securing our border, treating the sick, keeping our people healthy, creating jobs, and funding livelihoods.

It is wrong to say that the budget merely pays
for the overhead of the bureaucracy. It is more than that. It funds the elimination of problems that we as a nation must overcome. It is incorrect to say that the budget merely finances the operations of government because its fine print bankrolls the realization of our dreams writ large.

In the end, every line in this budget when translated to projects — from roads, to schools, to hospitals — will transform our country for the better and the lives of our people for the better. [applause]

In this budget, we have included what we consider to be the means that will boost both the physical and human capital of a nation, blessed with talent waiting to be tapped with resources ready to be harnessed.

But I would be the first to dispel any claim that this budget fully funds all our plans for our country and our people. How I wish that we could wipeout with one budget cycle all our infrastructure backlogs. How I wish that we had “unli” revenues to realize our country’s unlimited potential.

[Sadly], the will is there, the wherewithal perhaps not always so.

Like any government, we are curtailed by what we can collect, by what our tax coffers contain. We can be reckless, take the easy path, borrow, let our children pick today’s tab up tomorrow.

But debt is not the kind of inheritance that we want to leave those who will come after us. Good fiscal stewardship imposes upon us the discipline not to be led into the temptation of bloating what we owe. Good government dictates upon us the duty to spend the appropriations we have cobbled together for the correct purposes, the right way, on time, and on budget.

I say this to remind those who will execute this budget that red tape that leads to underspending and overspending that disregards legal guardrails are two sides of the same coin.

Implementation delay and illegal deviations inflict the same havoc of denying the people of the progress and development that they deserve.

So, with this reminder comes the most important budget commandment that we must all receive: We are working for the people not for ourselves. We are working for the country, not for ourselves.

Honor the taxpayers who make the budget possible and in doing so, we will bring closer to the brighter tomorrow that we aspire for Bagong Pilipinas that we all envision for our people.

Let us all work in solidarity for a more empowered Philippines! I congratulate you all for the very hard work that I know you have put in to put this budget together.

Mabuhay kayong lahat! Maraming, maraming salamat po! [applause]

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon! [applause]

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