Is Lacson's 'P100,000 debt per Filipino' claim simply 'propaganda'?

Is Lacson's 'P100,000 debt per Filipino' claim simply 'propaganda'?
Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson at the first nationally televised presidential debates at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and aired on CNN Philippines on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.
Marvin John Uy for Philstar.com

(Updated 12:41 p.m.) Presidential candidate Panfilo "Ping Lacson" tweeted in July 2021: “After the earthquake, I couldn’t sleep thinking that our national debt has ballooned to P11.07T. Each one of us is now in debt by P100K.”

Recently, 2021 articles from websites "trending balita.online" and "pinoytrendingnews.net" resurfaced on Facebook pages of a presidential candidate and gained new comments and reactions.

The articles quote blogger and radio host Mark Lopez claiming that Lacson’s tweet is “agitprop or agitation propaganda.” The tweet lacks context, he claimed, as its "sole purpose" is to disturb people and make it look like we're buried in debt.

To support his claim, the blogger cited President Duterte’s infrastructure programs and not the debt generated since Ferdinand Marcos' years as the reason for the high debt.

“Ito ay panloloko at panlilinlang sa taumbayan, na kaya lang gawin ng isang politiko na wala talagang malasakit sa ating kapakanan. This does not deserve our vote,” Lopez added.

Why the 'agitprop' claim is false

Sen. Lacson later even modified his tweet in August and wrote on Oct. 30, 2021, that every Filipino, including newborns, is in debt by at least P120,000 as the country’s outstanding debt hit P11.92 trillion by the end of September 2021.

The UK-based non-profit Jubilee Debt Campaign wrote in 2017 that the Philippine government "on some measures continues to be one of the most indebted in the world."

"Through the course of Marcos’s dictatorship, the IMF and World Bank lent the regime $5.5 billion, with a further $3.5 billion from foreign governments such as the United States," it added.

In 2020, the debt was still at P9.8 trillion, the bureau said.

The Philippines government recently had to incur additional loans to fund the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, amounting to P1.18 trillion in foreign loans alone.

The latest computation of the Bureau of Treasury released earlier this month states that the country's outstanding debt reached P11.73 trillion in 2021.

Dividing the amount to the current estimate of the Philippine population of around 109 million, it would appear each Filipino owes around P107,000, which is close to Lacson's estimate.

At the CNN Philippines presidential debate on February 27, Lacson said that to control debt, it is time for the country to shift from the Duterte administration's drive to "Build, Build, Build" to public-private partnerships. He plans to pursue this should he become president.



A version of this article was first published on Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking project for the 2022 Philippines' elections. Philstar.com is a founding partner of the pioneering academe- and media-led initiative to counter disinformation and provide the public with verified information.





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