By Mario Casayuran
The enemy is not me but the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Senator Imee R. Marcos said on Wednesday, April 15.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, stressed this after Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III rejected her proposal for the Philippines to seek a moratorium in the payment of its debts as the virus continues to stalk the country.
She said she understands the frustration of Dominguez that the COVID-19 is slowly undoing all the hard work that the DOF has done to keep the country’s economy in good shape.
‘’I plead (to) Secretary Dominguez not to take things personally when I stand my ground that the government should suspend payment of the country’s debts to fund more urgent cash aid for millions of Filipinos who will surely go hungry if the pandemic lasts longer than expected and keeps them in lockdown,’’ she said.
‘’A debt moratorium is neither mendicancy, nor theft, nor hopeless indebtedness. It is a necessity, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), if nations with meager resources and weak health care systems are to survive this crisis. In Southeast Asia, COVID-19 has hit the Philippines the hardest,’’ she added.
Marcos recalled that President Duterte has emphasized that government resources are not inexhaustible.
‘’A debt moratorium can substantially stretch the lifeline of resources that must reach as many people as they cry out for help, as far as the remotest barangay infected by the virus, and hopefully as long as this crisis will last,’’ she said.
‘’While Secretary Dominguez and I are still lucky to have three square meals a day, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Filipinos with no access to the media are going hungry; unseen Filipinos whose patience and belief in government are being tested every single day when the promised aid does not arrive,’’ she said.
” All out na po tayo, please sir, all heart! Marami nang Pilipinong gutom. Itodo na po natin ang tulong sa ating kapwa,’’ Marcos said. (Please Sir, we should go all out, all heart! Many Filipinos are getting hungry. Let us throw our full support to our countrymen.)