The next president will inherit an outstanding debt of P6.4 trillion or roughly P62,000 owed by each Filipino for 2016, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said on Friday as the group pushed for the repeal of automatic debt servicing as an electoral issue.
The FDC will launch a citizen campaign to urge the next administration to conduct a debt audit and scrutinize which of the loans are fraudulent and should not be paid, FDC secretary general Samuel Gamboa said.
The group had engaged lawmakers in previous administrations for a debt audit but during President Benigno Aquino III’s term, “the door has been totally shut off on the basis that the government didn’t want the budget to be derailed,” Gamboa said.
“The biggest problem in relation to our debt is the automatic appropriations law. Because it automatically slices off from the national budget what could have been utilized for social services, such as education, healthcare and housing,” he said.
Gamboa said borrowing in itself was not a problem if it results in projects that benefit the people and not pocketed for kickbacks.
From 2011 to 2015, amortization has eaten up an average of 48.2 percent of the Aquino administration’s yearly borrowings, the FDC said. The debt stock is driven up by the government’s dependence on new borrowings to pay off existing loans and plug off budget deficits.
“It is time for us, the voters, to rise up and stage an electoral insurgency against debt and its roles in perpetuating poverty and inequality,” professor Ed Tadem, FDC president, said.
With P4.16 trillion in gross borrowings, President Aquino has overtaken Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the biggest borrower among post-Edsa administrations over a full term, data gathered by FDC showed.
Arroyo incurred a debt of P3.53 trillion (2005-2010) and P1.82 trillion (2001-2004), Joseph Estrada P571.6 billion (1999-2000), Fidel Ramos P372.3 billion (1993-1996) and Cory Aquino P565.7 billion (1986-1992). The numbers are in current value and not adjusted for inflation.
“This vicious cycle of debt and ballooning social debt will continue as long as the government resorts to new borrowings to pay for old loans, including those tainted with fraud and corruption, and with the existence of the law on automatic appropriations for debt servicing,” said senatorial candidate Walden Bello, who is officially endorsed by FDC.
Arroyo, however, still has the biggest total amount of borrowings in her nine-year term at P5.35 trillion. RC
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