Dispatch from Crame No. 836: Sen. Leila M. de Lima on public accountability of the unprecedented loans of the Duterte Administration


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As an old saying goes, “debt is the worst poverty”. Even before this pandemic, Mr. Duterte and his administration had already gone on an unprecedented borrowing spree to fund its ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.

Three years into its implementation and the returns have been abysmal, with only 9 out of the 75 flagships projects having begun construction. Projects that have done more harm than good – worsening traffic, entering into dubious contracts with Chinese companies, blatantly disregarding the constitutionally mandated “Filipino First Policy”. Parang nangutang lang tayo subalit ang nakinabang ay ang bulsa ng mga dayuhan.

However, even their poor record of program implementation could not deter the Duterte administration from salivating for more funds under the imperatives of our COVID-19 response. Despite his emergency powers and a trillion-peso debt expedition, the President continues to play victim and recite his weekly lamentation, “wala na tayong pera”. This following a largely underwhelming, if not downright disappointing COVID-19 program.

With the enormous amounts funneled to their so-called “whole of government” response, the numbers do not add up. Tila may magic na nagaganap.

With around ₱1.6 trillion total expenditures from January to May, our situation seems to have worsened as daily infections have surged to new highs with no sign of slowing down. We recently recorded an additional 1,150 COVID-19 cases on June 23, the highest in a single day.

We continue to witness how slow they conduct contact tracing, coupled with the failure to meet the ideal contact tracers per population ratio. They keep bragging about the “increased capacity” to conduct a maximum of nearly 42,000 tests a day, yet the average number of tests being processed remains at 10,000 for almost a month now – with the private sector shouldering the majority thereof.

The month of June has ended and yet we are not even half-way in the distribution of the Social Amelioration Program, even as many of our countrymen take to the streets to beg for whatever help they can get to feed their families. Duterte’s Bayanihan Law just expired and it left us no better than we were before. Sa madaling salita, PALPAK.

Tanong ng bayan – “saan ginastos ang pera at mga inutang?” Your answer is probably as good as mine.

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 836 here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_no._836)

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