By Mario B. Casayuran
Senator Imee R. Marcos said on Friday (April 17) that Pope Francis has joined her call that the debt payments by the Philippines should be deferred as it faces the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
‘’Hindi lamang ang Simbahang Katolika na pinamumunuan ni Pope Francis ang pabor sa debt moratorium kundi pati na rin ang mga mayayamang bansa at malalaking institusyon sa pagpapautang dahil sa nangyayaring pandaigdigang krisis,’’ Marcos said. (It is not only the Catholic Church headed by Pope Francis but also the rich countries and big financial institutions that favor the debt payment moratorium because of the COVID-19 threat.)
Marcos said the position of the Pope, the rich countries and big financial institutions on debt payment moratorium is diametrically opposed to the position of Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Dominguez earlier rejected the call of Marcos that the Philippine government should seek a debt payment moratorium because it badly needs funds to address the multi-faceted problems caused by (COVID-19).
“Ang hinihingi lang natin ay i-delay ang pagbabayad ng ating utang. Wala tayong susubain at hindi natin tatakasan ang ating obligasyon. Magbabayad din tayo. Hindi ba maintindihan ni Secretary Dominguez yan?!” Marcos said. (All we ask is debt payment moratorium. He will not run away from our obligations. We will eventually pay. Dominguez does not know this?)
Marcos clarified that the call by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) at Asian Development Bank (ADB) for debt payment moratorium to 75 countries includes the Philippines.
Marcos said these financial institutions have eased the strict conditions they had imposed on borrowers and that these countries should now pay the doctors and nurses ‘’at siguraduhin na maayos na gumagana ang health system, at kayang proteksyunan higit sa lahat ang mga taong magkakasakit.’’ (and ensure that their health systems are functioning properly and focus on the protection and recovery of the sick.)
Marcos emphasized that she is ready to sit down with Dominguez and explain to him that her debt payment moratorium proposal is tenable and how it could help the country face the problems caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.