During the 15th Philippine Army Senior Leaders Conference on March 17, 2023, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno emphasized the role of the Philippine Army in economic development by upholding peace in the country.
“I would be remiss not to acknowledge the valiant work of our men and women in uniform in times of crises, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and the natural disasters that have devastated our shores over the years. The country thanks you for your service,” Secretary Diokno said in his closing message.
The conference theme, “On the Threshold of Transformation: The Continuing Quest for the Philippine Army’s Competitive Edge,” envisions a modern Philippine Army that can respond to the new and emerging threats of the 21st century.
The Philippine Army is the oldest branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is dedicated to protecting the Filipino people through land combat and operations.
“[P]eace is a necessary condition to economic development. Raising the material quality of life of all Filipinos is only possible when the people are protected from conflict and genuine peace is attained.”
According to Secretary Diokno, increasing geopolitical fragmentation around the world has put both human security and the stability of economies at risk. He stressed that the integrity of social, political, and economic ties depend on the maintenance of peace.
Secretary Diokno said that the economic team is implementing a whole-of-government approach to strengthen the resilience of the economy and pursue rapid, sustained, and inclusive growth.
In 2022, the Philippine economy grew by 7.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and surpassed its targets. In terms of fiscal performance, total revenue collections for 2022 reached PHP3.5 trillion, exceeding the program by 7.3 percent. The higher revenue collection led to a lower budget deficit of 7.3 percent of GDP from 8.6 percent in 2021.
“These fiscal numbers indicate that we are well on our way to achieving our medium-term macroeconomic goals and that we have what it takes to take the economy to greater heights,” Secretary Diokno said as he shared a brief overview of the country’s fiscal performance with the Philippine Army.
The Secretary highlighted the government’s commitment to implementing the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF), which will serve as a guide to prudent fiscal management and help the country maintain high infrastructure spending at 5 to 6 percent of GDP annually.
Secretary Diokno reasoned that, “Higher-quality physical infrastructure will help us create more jobs and establish more livable, productive, and interconnected communities.”
Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) will also play a huge role in financing the Marcos Jr. administration’s Build, Better, More program.
Furthermore, Secretary Diokno cited Chapter 13 of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028, which tackles peace and security as an essential foundation of sustainable development.
“This requires a sector-based approach and strong coordination among our military and justice institutions, national and local governments, civil society, and communities,” he said.
Developed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the PDP will guide the country’s socioeconomic development over the medium term and contains actionable strategies to reinvigorate job creation and accelerate poverty reduction through sustained and inclusive economic growth.
Lastly, Secretary Diokno expressed the government’s support to the AFP Modernization Program that will ensure that the men and women in the service are trained and equipped to effectively carry out their duties.
“Rest assured that the Marcos Jr. administration stands ready to strengthen support towards the vision of a world-class Army that shall be a source of national pride,” Secretary Diokno said in closing.