Press Release
June 25, 2020

Drilon supports more loans to fund COVID-19 response

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M Drilon said the government should borrow more money to continuously fund response to COVID-19 pandemic and shore up the economy.

"Ako po ay sumusuporta, hindi baleng mangutang tayo at mawala yung ating credit rating pero kailangan mangutang tayo para mabigyan natin ng stimulus ang ating mga kababayan at maibalik ang sigla ng ekonomiya," Drilon said in an interview with Teleradyo Thursday.

Drilon said "the government has no choice but to borrow money since the tax collections are down."

"Our present financial standing is not sufficient for us to cope with the pandemic situation. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over," Drilon said.

"We need to hire thousands of contact tracers, incentivize doctors and nurses so they wont leave their posts, purchase PPEs to protect our healthcare workforce, provide stimulus funds to businesses, and bring back home thousands of OFWs," he added.

Drilon issued the statement amid serious concerns that some agencies, including the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), might go bankrupt if the situation worsens and continues up to next year.

The OWWA, upon questioning of Drilon during a Senate hearing on Wednesday, expressed concerns that their remaining P18.8 billion trust fund would go down to P1 billion by the end of 2021 if the situation worsens. The OWWA said it would spend around P4.5 billion to repatriate all 150,000 displaced overseas Filipino workers.

Drilon said if the money is made available, the Congress can appropriate more funds to reimburse OWWA in order to keep it financially viable.

The minority leader said the government should use its good credit standing to take advantage of credit financing facilities available worldwide.

"Ang problema ay ang willingness ng gobyerno lalo na ang Department of Financepara dagdagan ang ating utang kasi wala tayong choice. Walang collection. Kailangan ibalik ang ating ekonomiya para magkaroon ng collection ang BIR," Drilon said.

The DOF had earlier announced its COVID-19-related borrowings have so far reached $4.83 billion from four international agencies to fund the local COVID-19 response and half of has been disbursed.

Among those which extended loans to the Philippines are the Asian Development Bank with $2.6-billion, the World Bank with $1.2 billion, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with $750 million, and Agence Française de Développement with $275.7 million.

"Kailangan umutang tayo wala tayong magagawa. Lahat ng bansa tumataas ang utang kasi lahat apektado hindi lang naman tayo," Drilonsaid.

"If that is the only way we can help our countrymen begging for help, including our modern day heroes, then we should borrow more and give them to the people. If that is how we can survive this pandemic, then be it. Hindi tayo dapat mahiyang mangutang," he said.

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