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Opinion

12 trillion debt, 10.5M poor, pending food crisis, etc.  

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

Amidst unresolved electoral matters, all Filipinos need to brace themselves for even more challenging days and months ahead.

These real challenges will soon test if the Filipinos’ newly-elected national/local leaders, can effectively resolve real problems of mounting national debt/ poverty/hunger/pending food crisis/ continuing pandemic and more.

Reality check.

Rappler reported that Philippine government’s outstanding debt reached ?12.03 trillion in January, 2022, up by ?301 billion (2.6%) from end-December and up by 16.5% compared to January 2021.

“Domestic debt totaled ?8.37 trillion and external debt reached ?3.66 trillion, the Philippines’ largest debt pile so far, giving the next president tight room for borrowing.”

A 2021 Philippine Daily Inquirer report noted that “it took 118 years for the country to raise its debt from ?20 million in 1898 to ?6.1 trillion in 2016, when Duterte was elected as president.”

It took “just six years to escalate the debt burden from ?6.1 trillion in 2016 to ?12.03 trillion January 2022.”

A very serious question all Filipinos need to have an answer for soonest is who will pay this huge Philippine government debt? Will it be the Filipino people who will pay for this huge debt?

In 2016, Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, of Bayan Muna the party-list group, warned the Filipinos that we, the Filipinos “will be paying the Marcos debt, which mostly went to their own pockets, until 2025, or almost 40 years after EDSA.”

much longer then will the Filipinos need to pay the Duterte government-incurred trillion debts? Will the poor pay for this debt together with the rich?

If all Filipinos will need to pay this debt, shouldn’t all Filipinos insist on knowing how and where the debt money went?

According to Rappler. “economists and market analysts earlier said spending or where the money went is the bigger issue.”

Will the rich and poor agree to higher and/or more taxes to pay for this huge government debt? Will the rich Marcos Jr. pay his long-overdue tax to the Philippine government?

Asking the poor to carry the added burden of higher and more taxes will be too much for them.

A recent Social Weather Stations survey showed that “an estimated 10.9 million Filipino families considered themselves “poor” in the first quarter of 2022,” up from 10.7 million in December 2021.

A CNN December 2021 report previously noted that a “Social Weather Stations survey revealed around 2.5 million Filipino families who experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months.”

Add to these realities of increasing indebtedness/poverty/hunger this latest dire warning from Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar of “a looming global food crisis that will certainly hit the country hard if appropriate actions and proper planning are not done in the soonest possible time.”

Dar pointed that “big increase in the prices of farm inputs that are now being felt even in the country is one of the indications (of the looming food crisis) which he said “is driven by the adverse economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war between Russia and Ukraine and the continuous upsurge of oil prices.”

Will the Marcos Jr. promise of ?20-kilo rice help pay for the mounting government debt, assist the poor and the hungry amidst the pending food crisis and more problems?

Addressing this promise, Albay lawmaker Joey Sarte Salceda said that the lower rice price “could only happen if the country imports rice from Vietnam without imposing taxes” but this “he pointed out, would kill 3.4 million Filipino rice farmers.”

Time for us all to seriously unite and act on how best we can prepare/assist especially our marginalized poor and hungry for present and future harsh realities.

FOOD CRISIS

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