Press Release
March 3, 2009


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero asked where President Arroyo would get the funds for the Philippines' contribution to a proposed billion-dollar "rescue fund" that will serve as an emergency credit line for the members of the regional grouping in times of economic crisis.

Mrs. Arroyo made the proposal during the recent Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean) summit held in Cha-am, Thailand. She said the government plans to give at least $3.6 billion (about P150 billion) to the fund.

"There is a disconnect here. Funds are needed here badly to keep jobs, or even hire more, create business, raise taxes, conserve dollars, retain talent, prevent factory closures" Escudero said.

He said instead of the President investing the government's resources in the Philippines, she is actually exporting our financial resources.

Escudero added that with the country already in crisis, the President should have stayed here instead to resolve such problems.

"I'm sure Asean wouldn't mind if our share was miniscule. But since we were among those who actively pursued the creation of the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI), we are forced to take a more prominent role."

The CMI was established shortly after the Asian financial crisis in 1997 with the aim of creating a network of bilateral swap agreements among the Asean + three countries (China, Japan, South Korea) to address short-term liquidity problems in the region and to supplement existing financial arrangements

The regional financial meltdown made Asean and East Asian nations aware of the importance of promoting regional financial cooperation to prevent it from happening again and also to ensure sustained economic growth.

Originally, the CMI was intended to be a currency pool for the region, with the bulk to be come from China, Japan and South Korea. However, the economies of the three are now facing a recession while the 10 members of Asean have yet to agree on how much they would contribute.

"The government should put our eggs in our own basket. It should take the lead in showing confidence in the Philippine economy by spending inwards and fill the vacuum that will be left by the global economic slowdown".

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