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05 September 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration’s proposed 2017 national budget has allocated P6.13 billion in foreign debt service for 13 fraudulent, wasteful or useless loans, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) bared in a recent news release.
“For all of the hoopla about having a ‘Budget for Real Change’, billions of public funds remain to be captured and wasted on questionable loans incurred since the time of the late dictator Marcos. FDC has initially identified 13 questionable loans, but more are likely to be uncovered if Congress initiates an official comprehensive audit of all public debts,” FDC Secretary General Sammy Gamboa said.
FDC defines illegitimate debts as debts arising from loan-funded programs or projects that violated principles of human rights and sustainable human development, justice and fairness, accountability and responsibility, sovereignty of peoples and nations, and democracy. Projects funded by the 13 loans involved construction of farm-to-market roads, flood control, irrigation, power sector reforms, and elementary education, among others. Many of the loans came from the Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the World Bank.
01 September 2016
MANILA, Philippines – While recognizing the need to ensure that the national budget prioritizes social development particularly the people’s welfare, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) yesterday criticized the Duterte administration for using this as a convenient excuse to justify the P80-million allocation for pet projects of each legislator.
“The proposed 2017 national budget, with its provision for lawmakers to identify projects for budgetary funding, reeks of traditional or ‘trapo’ politics that perpetuate patronage relations between public officials and their constituents,” FDC Vice-President James Matthew Miraflor said.
Miraflor pointed out that the Supreme Court decision on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the distinct and separate roles of the Executive and Legislative branches in the budget process are clear and should not be undermined by mere technicalities.
August 10, 2016
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) launches an online petition to urge President Rodrigo Duterte and the members of the 17th Congress to repeal the Law on Automatic Appropriations for Debt Servicing and to conduct an Official Comprehensive Audit of all public debts.
“Filipino tax taxpayers'' money and all public funds should be spent for people''s needs and welfare such that provisioning for essential public services and immediate post-disaster rehabilitation for victims of calamities are assured and in place,” FDC stated in its letter through online petition platform Change.org.
According to the group, the Automatic Appropriations Law (AAL) forces the government to set aside a substantial portion of its annual budget for debt servicing before allocations are made for vital social and economic services. The law provision for Automatic Debt Servicing is contained in Section 26B, Book VI of Executive Order 292 or the 1987 Revised Administrative Code and was copied en toto from Section 31(B) of Presidential Decree 1177 or the Budget Reform Decree of 1977 of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.
In the course of 30 years since 1986, the AAL has resulted in an average of 27.21 percent of annual public revenues automatically earmarked for interest payments, while principal amortization has eaten up an average of 67.61 of government''s borrowings.
FDC also calls for an immediate moratorium on repayments for questionable loans pending the results of the proposed Official Comprehensive Audit in order to stop further bleeding of public coffers for servicing of debts challenged as fraudulent, wasteful, and/or useless.
Earlier this year, FDC stated that out of the P214.5 billion scheduled debt servicing for foreign liabilities of the national government in 2016, P3.78 billion will go to interest and principal payments of five questionable loan-funded projects: Power Sector Development Program, Sixth Road (Tullahan), Pampanga Development Flood Control, Bohol Irrigation II, and Angat Water Supply Optimization.
In 2008 and 2011, FDC successfully lobbied the Congress for a moratorium on P25.9 billion interest payments for illegitimate debts and for an audit of all public debts. However, its efforts were blocked by the administrations of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.
FDC urges President Duterte not to pattern himself after his predecessors but instead develop debt management policies and strategies that ensure provisioning for human life in all its fullness, integrity and dignity.
The online petition can be accessed through this link: https://www.change.org/p/president-rodrigo-roa-duterte-repeal-of-the-automatic-appropriations-law-for-debt-servicing-audit-all-public-debts
May 26, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The shameless trumpeting by the Aquino administration of an economic growth that benefits only the rich and propertied segment of society is an outrage, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), the group said in a news release on Thursday.
Reacting to the Aquino administration’s recent claims of leaving a legacy of a strong economy, FDC President Ed Tadem said, “Economic growth as measured by the gross domestic product has indeed grown under Aquino but this pales in comparison to continuing high poverty levels, joblessness and rising income inequality, the P6.4 trillion public debt to be inherited by the next administration and the billions of pesos wasted in payments for fraudulent, wasteful and questionable loans.”
Tadem cited the Social Weather Stations’ report that 50 percent of Filipinos (11.2 million families) rated themselves as poor as of December 2015 while the joblessness average for 2015 was 21.9 percent. He also said that within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines, as of 2013, registered the second highest income inequality ratio based on the Gini coefficient index.
FDC President Ed Tadem speaks on debt and fiscal justice during a press conference at the Philippine Conference on Illicit Financial Flows, Debt and Tax Justice held at Cocoon Boutique Hotel in Quezon City from 14-15 April 2016. With him are (L-R): Rep. Leah Paquiz of Ang Nars Party-list; Prof. Walden Bello, independent Senatorial candidate; Renato Magtubo of Partido Manggagawa, party-list candidate; Benjo Basas of Ating Guro, party-list candidate; and Lidy Nacpil, FDC Vice-President and Regional Coordinator of the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD). The event was jointly sponsored by FDC and APMDD.
15 April 2016
Amidst the global controversy on the Panama Papers on potential illegal financial activities that allegedly implicated Filipino politicians, business moguls and political candidates now running for office, the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) reminded candidates of the adverse impact of the continuing debt dependence of the country and weak taxation policy.
“The Panama Papers shows the rampant illicit financial flows which is a global phenomenon that implicates Filipino politicians and may only be the tip of the iceberg since there are many tax havens and the full disclosure of the Panama Papers will only be done in May,” said Prof. Ed Tadem, FDC president.
“The phenomenon of illicit financial flows represents resources that could have been used meaningfully in the country for essential programs and projects and even for investments that should reduce if not free us from our dependence on foreign and domestic debt,” Tadem said.