25 February 2008
Debt & Public Finance
Statement of the Freedom from Debt Coalition
On the 22nd Anniversary of People Power 1
Quezon City, 25 February 2008Illegitimate Debt:
The Betrayal of Post-Edsa Governments
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) joins the entire country as we commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the first people power uprising that gave birth to a new nation long thirsty for justice, equality and peace. We join the Filipino people as we relive this historical and significant occasion—an important juncture that saw not only a united people unceremoniously removing an authoritarian regime through collective struggle, but also the political nativity of “people power” as a potent tool of the citizens against institutionalized social ills.
However, the ethos and the principles of this significant event had been gravely bastardized and betrayed by succeeding post-Edsa governments. Social justice issues which were the backbone issues of the first Edsa uprising were swept aside in favor of the return of elite and patronage politics, the restoration to political and economic pre-eminence of the traditional ruling classes and their continued subservience to foreign interests and institutions.
None is more glaring of this betrayal than the refusal of all post-Edsa governments to fundamentally confront our lingering debt problem. Their refusal to undergo a progressive re-orientation of public spending towards important social services like education and health away from the burdensome payment of illegitimate debts is a complete turnaround from one of the most elemental social justice calls made by the people during and after the downfall of the Marcos regime.
From Cory Aquino’s spineless “honor all debts” policy up to Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada’s same penchant for debt servicing and accumulation of new illegitimate debts coupled with their blind acceptance of the creditor community’s ill-prescribed structural adjustment policies of deregulation, liberalization and privatization; generation after generation of Filipinos were betrayed by these governments by forcing them to live a life of indebtedness, shoved to the breadline because of debts they do not owe.
Beyond doubt, the persistent problem of illegitimate debts is a clear and costly betrayal of the true spirit of Edsa by all post-Edsa governments.
Even so, the government which can best characterize and give meaning to this treachery and tragedy is no less than the illegitimate administration of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Born out of a similar people power uprising which deposed a corrupt President, the Arroyo government broke all the promises and hopes of Edsa 2 by not only replicating the sins and failures of its predecessors but by taking them to new heights and proportions.
To date, Mrs. Arroyo’s debt payment and borrowing spree are historically unrivaled. Her total debt stock dwarfs to shame the total debt accumulation of the three administrations before her. Likewise, her track record of entering into anomalous if not illegitimate deals and contracts which in turn becomes illegitimate debts to be carried by an already debt-burdened populace is unparalleled and phenomenal.
This is the true essence of Rodolfo Lozada’s revelation on the aborted $ 329 million ZTE National Broadband Network—an anomalous contract which Mrs. Arroyo recently admitted to be flawed in the first place. Lozada’s testimony is not only a sad and appalling story of corruption, greed and bribery; moreover, it is an ugly reminder that we are still trapped in this deadly debt quagmire imposed to us by our government in collusion with unscrupulous lending institutions.
Twenty-two years have passed since the first Edsa uprising yet, our present government is still an insatiable debt addict. It not only continued to acquire new and yet unwanted debts it also created a new breed of insatiable plunderers headed by no other than Mrs. Arroyo’s First family and their entire cabal of thieves and social leeches.
We abhor and condemn this illegitimate government and their illegitimate debt!
Now more than ever, in the midst of our quest for truth, accountability and social change, we enjoin the Filipino people not only to remember the lessons of the past, not only to celebrate what was before but more importantly, to relive and reawaken the idea of another Edsa people power.
However, the Edsa we want is unlike the previous Edsas. What we want is a people power of a new-type. What we want is an Edsa that is explicitly against elite rule and elite succession, a people power that is against foreign meddling and intrusion and a new Edsa that will wipe out all illegitimate debts.
Let us finish what we have started twenty-two years ago. Let us finish our incomplete revolution.
Not to do so is truly, what’s unforgivable.
Gloria, Noli Resign!
Establish a New Government of the Filipino People!
Wipe Out all Illegitimate Debts!