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Opinion

Philippine economy is a mess

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

“Confession is good for the soul”. With this line, Congressman Eduardo “Sir Eddiegul” Gullas, of the first congressional district of Cebu, opened his inspirational speech to the graduating class of the UV College of Law few years ago. He proceeded to admit that not everything he wanted to do for his constituents he fully accomplished. There were, according to him, other parts of his dream that he has yet to achieve. And what an inspiration he gave to his audience then.

Public confession is remarkably good for the social standing of the penitent. For a brilliant and successful leader that Sir Eddiegul is, acknowledging in public that there are still few things to do is most humbling. For all we know, even the less successful among his peers may admit publicly their less-admirable performance without losing his dignity because American writer Max Ehrmann said “listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”

More so, for ordinary people like us. In my case, (and this may not be off tangent) I must confess that I don’t understand statistics. Figures that usually accompany statistical curves don’t educate me their significance. But, in my seeming ignorance, I viewed differently certain statistical numbers that were shown in a recent news bulletin about the Philippine economy. That the Philippines breached P11 trillion in external debt was how the banner was written. And, despite my lack of training on how economy works, I heed Ehrmann’s Desiderata as I dare to express my story. After all, I am a taxpayer and I contribute to pay our country’s debt.

The Bureau of Treasury reported that when Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III became the president of the republic in 2010, the outstanding foreign debt of the Philippines was P4.6 trillion. In the course of his six-year administration ending June 2016, Aquino incurred an additional P1.37 trillion external debt. All told, when Aquino turned the presidency over to his successor, Rodrigo Duterte, the outstanding foreign debt of our country stood at P5.9 trillion.

What did President Aquino accomplish for our country with his total borrowing of P1.37 trillion? In order to be accurate, I will quote the Official Gazette in its report halfway of Aquino’s term: “The performance of the Philippine economy in 2012 and in the first quarter of 2013 indicates that it is moving along a higher growth trajectory. From the 3.6% growth recorded in 2011, the Philippines’ GDP grew by 6.8% in 2012 and by 7.8% in the first quarter of 2013. The first quarter growth of 2013 is the highest growth rate recorded under the Aquino administration, and is faster than that of China’s, Indonesia’s, Thailand’s, and Vietnam’s for the same period.” Res ipsa loquitor. There is no more glowing economic report than that Official Gazette record.

I don’t question the news item the other day that under the present administration of President Duterte, our external debt has breached the P11 trillion mark. In other words, in just five years of the Duterte administration, he, by obtaining P5 trillion borrowing, put our country in foreign debt more than 300% times than did Aquino. To repeat, the external debts are: Aquino P1.37 trillion, Duterte P5 trillion.

Yet, what has Duterte done with his administration’s P5 trillion plus borrowing? To answer, I quote only a banner line from the internet: Philippine economy is a mess. I do not wish to reproduce the entire news item because it will give reason to this administration to red-tag me. Ha ha ha ha!

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