Press Release
May 29, 2006


Lest Congress let a criminal act slip through in the P1-trillion budget for 2006, it should take a closer look at the provision for debt servicing instead of approving the automatic appropriation.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the debt burden, while not a high-profile issue, robs Filipinos of much-needed basic services especially if the debts were acquired with onerous conditions.

"The debt burden should be a major cause for concern. How much of the P1 trillion this year will go to paying our debts? How much of the debt was acquired under questionable circumstances? How much of the debt can be described as graft-ridden? The people are being punished for such onerous debts," he said.

Citing figures reaching him, Lacson said the government will be paying more than P700 billion this year, including P340 billion for automatic interest payments in the P1-trillion budget; and another P382 billion for the principal amount, through off-budget items.

He called for an inventory of the debts, which will be the basis for forming short-, medium- and long-term strategies to make sure the debt will not burden the people.

"We need to craft strategies for the short, medium and long term to make sure people are not deprived of much-needed basic services," he said.

As of December 2005, the Bureau of Treasury said the national debt has ballooned to P4.02 trillion, including P1.87 trillion owed to foreign creditors and P2.15 trillion to domestic creditors.

Figures from the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) show that as of end-February 2006, the central government has a total debt of P3.964388 trillion, including P1.796472 trillion in foreign debts and P2.167916 trillion in domestic debts.

Of the P2.168-trillion domestic debt, P642.894 billion is considered short-term; P887.271 billion considered medium-term; and P637.751 billion considered long-term.

The government has also guaranteed P575.247 billion of the debt, including P48.146 billion in foreign debts and P527.101 billion in domestic debts.

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