Resurrecting our freedoms, reviving our democracy

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Today, as we celebrate Easter Sunday, the heart of the Catholic faith, we should pray for our country. We have been facing too many crucifixions in the national economy, in this pandemic and health crisis, and in politics and governance. It is time to be inspired by Easter.

There is a widespread crisis of confidence in the whole nation, as people are losing trust in our institutions. People are hungry, angry, restless, and seemingly hopeless. Millions of Filipinos have lost their jobs, as thousands of small-scale and medium-sized companies have opted to close before they face total bankruptcies. Bank loans have been unpaid and many mortgaged properties are being foreclosed. Hundreds of thousands of our OFWs have come home and they have no clear assurance that they could go back to their employers, and if so, when. Their employers are also affected heavily. And so, the children of our repatriated migrant workers have no means to resume college studies. Tuitions are unpaid and private schools have problems where to get money to pay their teachers and staff.

Prior to the pandemic, the Philippines' total national debt was estimated at a whopping US$150.27 billion. In pesos, that is approximately, P7,277,651,235,000 or P7.277 trillion. Today, the estimate has been increased to $221.93 in 2021 and $253.93 in 2022. In 2025, it will balloon to $361.47, all these in billions. These are translated to Philippine national debts of P10,747,071,215,000 in 2021. In 2022, it will be P12,296,687,215,000 and in 20225, a mind-boggling debt of P17,504,365,485,000.

Seven generations below us will not be able yet to pay for that. These are figures that will cause too much headaches to our economic and financial managers. Our gross domestic products have nosedived and our per capita income is reaching rock bottom. These are the worst of times, and it will take decades before we can have again another best of times. COVID has devastated us financially.

We cannot blame the government for the pandemic. This is a force majeure or a fortuitous event. It is crazy to point fingers. But we can only say that other economies in Asia and Pacific are not hit in the same level of devastation as we are. Vietnam is coping well. Its infection and mortality rates are quite low, and its economy is doing very well. The same is true with Thailand, Malaysia, and of course, Singapore. Indonesia is also being hit hard but not as bad as us. The other ASEAN countries were better managers of crisis than our government. They have leaders who have the proper management and leadership skills. And the people are disciplined. Here, we have a government that is groping for strategies and a people who are very difficult to lead and manage. It is not the government alone that fails. The people have a lot of responsibility to bear.

The COVID crisis might have broken us economically. But we should revive our spirit and our national soul. We should rebuild our freedom from fear, freedom from doubts, and freedom from the crisis of faith. Let us stand up and face the future with boldness and hopes. We need to elect leaders that should bring back the nobility of our race, the decency of our people and the importance of respect for life, human rights, and human dignity. Financial crises come and go. Faith, hope and reason should transcend all times, all spaces, and all generations. A blessed Easter to us all.


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