FDC: Aquino Gov’t Surpasses Arroyo as Biggest Debtor; Voters Must Rise Up Against Debt, Poverty and Inequality
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III not only failed to curb the country’s poverty and debt burden. He turned out to be the biggest loan addict, and a total failure in addressing the Philippines’ entrapment in a cycle of debt dependence. The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), in a press conference with selected election candidates on Friday, said that President Aquino has even eclipsed former President Gloria Arroyo as the biggest borrower among Philippine leaders, over a full term, from 1986 to present.
The group revealed that President Aquino will leave his successor with P6.4 trillion of national government outstanding debt, P4.16 trillion of which are borrowings made during his term. Divided among the projected 103 million population, each Filipino now owes a sum of P62,235.26 plus P4,251 in government-guaranteed debts.
According to FDC, this unresolved debt problem has resulted in the government’s failure to meet its obligations to the people, or social debt as a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). FDC said that President Aquino’s social debt in education and health alone already amounts to P7 trillion.
FDC President Dr. Ed Tadem joins the panel of speakers during the 1 February 2016 press conference of BUHAY NA MAY DIGNIDAD PARA SA LAHAT (DIGNIDAD!) on the SSS pension increase. DIGNIDAD is a newly-established broad platform of citizens' groups advancing an agenda that will ensure a life of dignity for all Filipinos. The panel includes Independent Senatorial Candidate Dr. Walden Bello, Prof. Rene Ofreneo (DIGNIDAD spokesperson), Atty. Aaron Pedrosa (Sanlakas), Atty. Gen Du (Umalab Ka), Wilson Fortaleza (Partido Manggagawa), Aura Sevilla (COSE), Trining Domingo (KABAPA), Maria Flores (Kaisahan ng Maliliit na Magsasaka Partylist) and Salve Basiano (SSS Pensioner).
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) joins the aggrieved 2.15 million pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS) in urging the Philippine Congress to override President Aquino’s veto and proceed to enact the law granting a PhP2,000 across-the-board increase in monthly pension. Further, FDC recommends that our lawmakers take this issue a step higher and immediately review the SSS social insurance scheme because clearly, this fails to protect members at old age. Not even with the P2,000 hike.
Paying attention to the financial security of retirees is long overdue. Beyond question, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure this. Aquino should be shaken out of his habit of rejecting proposals entailing public subsidies even if these would improve the lot of millions of Filipinos. Take the individual income tax cuts bills languishing in Congress, for example. And now the SSS pension increase.
Freedom From Debt Coalition
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines is a nationwide multi-sectoral, non-sectarian and pluralist coalition conducting policy advocacy work and campaigns to realize a common framework and agenda for economic development.