Presidential candidates dared to back debt cancellation

    Groups urge presidential candidates to include external debt cancellation in their agenda as part of the country’s full recovery from the pandemic.
    Only one of the presidential aspirants has agreed with the Freedom from Debt Coaltion (FDC) when it hurled a challenge to candidates running for president in the May 2022 polls to support the proposal to cancel payment of the country’s external debt.

    MANILA — Last year, the FDC and 50 other organizations issued a global open letter to governments and international lenders, requesting that all lenders unconditionally discharge public external debt for “countries in need” for at least four years.

    “The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), of which I am chairperson, is a member of the FDC. As a member of the coalition, I agree with its position,” said Leody de Guzman, presidential candidate of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM).

    The debt was at a record ₱11.63 trillion at the end of August, up 21 percent from a year earlier. Over the first eight months of the year, the government added ₱1.85 trillion to its debt.

    Mae Buenaventura, a member of the FDC Board of Directors, believes that candidates for the national elections next year should be asked if debt cancellation is on their agenda.

    “If there (are none), their recovery plans are questionable, because (debt payments) eat up a lot of public money,” Buenaventura says.

    Increasing borrowing is not necessarily the solution to propel the recovery from the pandemic, she says.

    FDC Board Member Raquel Castillo, meanwhile, said the group is urging electoral candidates to promise that social development will take up a larger share of the budget than debt payments.

    She asked for the Congressional practice of auditing the national debt to be revived, as well as the repeal of an automatic appropriations law that commits Government funds to debt servicing.

    As of this writing, no other presidential candidates have reacted. (JD/The MiNT)

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