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The Philippines’ debt problem and the continued accumulation of illegitmate debt has once again been put in the spotlight

Release Date: 26-Mar-2008

Every minute, the Philippines government, using citizens’ money, is paying a mind-boggling P1.1 million just to service its debt.

This month, the People Against Illegitimate Debt (PAID!) movement in the Philippines launched the Independent Citizens’ Debt Audit Commission. Thirty individuals of proven probity, credibility and expertise, coming from different sectors of society, have taken their oath as members of the Citizens Commission.

The citizens’ commission aims to conduct a critical, comprehensive, participatory and transparent examination of the Philippine public debt and contingent liabilities based on testimonies and inputs from affected communities, data and studies to be submitted by resource persons and organizations, and researches prepared by working groups and technical teams. It also aims to formulate policy proposals and recommendations for action.

PAID! members said the Commission is also charged with recommending immediate steps as well as far-reaching solutions towards eradicating the debt burden and correcting structural and systemic flaws and deficiencies that contributed to debt accumulation and domination.

The examination of structural issues shall not be confined in the Philippine system alone but will also address the international financial architecture, they said.

The audit shall examine not only the responsibility and culpability of the Philippine government and related institutions, but also address the responsibility and culpability of international financial institutions and other lenders, they added.
Beckie Malay, vice president of FDC and of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) said there are more ZTE-type debts that not only continue to evade public scrutiny but also are being paid with public funds at the expense of dwindling social spending for important social services like education and health. The World Bank funded textbook project, the Cyber Education Project (CEP) and the Austrian loan funded Medical Waste project are just some examples.

“Different social movements, civil society leaders, people’s organizations, communities, church people and personalities have called for the formation of the Independent Citizens Debt Audit Commission as major step forward to fundamentally address our lingering debt problem,” said Malay.

To date, the National Government has a debt of P3.78 trillion or $81.6 billion. Our total consolidated public sector debt as of percentage to our Gross Domestic Product (GCP) is 81.9 percent. Each Filipino soul from the newly born baby to a dying septuagenarian is indebted by as much as P43,487, paying P7,012 annually to service the debt.