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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
03 March 2016
MANILA, Phlippines -- The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) urged the Aquino administration to reveal to the public how its huge P4.16-Trillion borrowings resulted in improving the lives of the Filipino people.
More than the misleading issue of the country’s ability to pay back its debt, FDC said, is the long overdue explanation of the government on how the loans were contracted, where they went, how they were utilized and what became of the programs and projects on which they were supposedly spent.
Unconvinced of the recent pronouncements of Malacañang, FDC challenged the Aquino administration to immediately take steps in repealing the Automatic Appropriations Law (AAL) for debt servicing, which was enacted through Presidential Decree 1177 issued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1977 when the country was under Martial Law and perpetuated by the 1987 Revised Administrative Code. This Marcosian law has been a major concern as the Philippines remains the only country in the world with such a rider in its government budget, according to Dr. Ed Tadem, FDC president.
FDC explained that with the government’s boisterous claim of “sound” borrowings and liability management strategy, it has no more need to assure lenders that it will automatically appropriate payments for debt service first before it divides whatever remains of the budget pie among social and economic services. And in case the government has forgotten, FDC reminds the Aquino administration that automatic appropriations for debt servicing has long undermined a democratic budget process and the people’s power of the purse, from Marcos’ time until the present government.
President Aquino has the obligation to explain to the Filipino people why an average of 48.2 percent of the government’s yearly borrowings from 2011 to 2015 automatically went to amortization of existing debts, while an annual average of 15.6 percent of the national budget were allocated first to interest payments before appropriations were made for programs, projects and activities, FDC argued. -30-