Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is alarmed at the continued borrowing frenzy of the Duterte administration whose total outstanding debt hit a record-high P11.07 trillion as of end of May.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, stressed that Duterte’s debt spree must be kept in check considering his infamous sly tactics and his minions’ ineptitude, negligence, and failure of coming up with a solid, well thought-out fiscal plan.
“Is it Build, Build, Build or Debt, Debt, Debt? That is the question of the hour. With countless unfulfilled promises, one cannot help but do the math and ask who actually gained from these projects. Bayan ba talaga ang nakinabang, o bayan ang namuhunan sa pagpapataba ng bulsa ng mga korap at ganid?” she asked in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1092.
“Hindi naman maaaring hayaan lang na tumaba ang bulsa ng iilan habang milyon-milyong Pilipino ang patuloy na nagugutom at naghihikahos,” she added.
Last July 5, the Bureau of the Treasury reportedly divulged that the Philippines’ debt stock went up by P79.8 billion or 0.73% from end-April, resulting to total outstanding debt of P11.07 trillion in end-May.
Reportedly, 28.5% of the total debt stock was sourced externally, while 71.5% are domestic borrowings.
“In fact, even before the pandemic, Duterte already began his debt addiction by signing loans to fund his supposed ‘legacy’ as the Golden Age of Infrastructure,” De Lima noted.
It can be recalled that the Philippines has been borrowing heavily not only to finance the country’s fight against COVID-19 but also to finance the Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure program or “Build, Build, Build.”
Despite the funds allocated for its infrastructure program, De Lima said the Duterte administration can only brag about the PNoy administration infrastructure projects that they simply completed.
“The Duterte administration’s dismal performance in the Build, Build, Build Program is undeniable, with most projects claimed by Duterte being properly attributable to PNoy. Pati mga proyekto niya inutang lang niya kay PNoy para kunwari meron din siyang nagawa, at hindi lang sya puro ngawa,” said she.
Worse, De Lima said that despite the trillions of loans acquired by Duterte to supposedly finance the coutnry’s COVID-19 response measures, the Philippines still rank second-lowest among 53 countries in a COVID-19 resilience study.
“Kulelat po tayo sa 53 bansa pagdating sa porsyento ng mga taong nabakunahan, kalubhaan ng mga lockdown, kapasidad sa paglipad at mga ruta sa pagbiyahe ng nabakunahan at iba pang indicators tulad ng fatality at positivity rate. Imbes na ayusin natin yung mga kakulangan, inaaway lang ni Duterte at mga tagapagsalita niya ang nagsasabi ng totoong kalagayan,” she said.
“Sa sobrang kapalpakan, ang ₱6.49 billion na pang-ayuda sana sa mga kababayan nating nangangailangan ay hindi naipamahagi hanggang nawalan na ng bisa ang Bayanihan 2. Perang inutang, natutulog lang dahil panay din ang tulog ng Pangulo,” she added.
De Lima was referring to Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking wherein the Philippines ranked second to the lowest with a score of only 45.3, next to Argentina with a score of 37, based on data as of June 27. (30)