Why is the Philippines a poor country?

Slumsby Jon E. Royeca

(Part 13 of the “In Defense of the Filipino” series)

THE usual answers to this question are because allegedly we Filipinos are indolent, thieves, corrupt, undisciplined, crab-minded, divided, and more. Let us have the real answers.

Nation’s Debts. The main reason is because a large portion of our national budget goes to paying our foreign and domestic debts, instead of using it to build more roads, highways, bridges, schools, hospitals, housing units, railroads, irrigation, cable lines, and other public works; to raise the salaries and benefits of our public school teachers, policemen, soldiers, and government employees; and to fund more development and poverty-alleviation programs.

For every peso that the Filipino taxpayer pays to the government, a big part of it (about a third) only goes to our creditors.

An example is our national budget in 1986. It was P250 billion, and 70 per cent of that went to our creditors, while the more than 50 million Filipinos then had to fight for the remaining 30 per cent.

More and more Filipinos are deprived of social services because a large portion of our national budget is just enjoyed by our few creditors. This is only very unjust and unthinkable.

Even if the alleged US$2.4 billion annual public corruption in the country is not stolen, this money will not still be enough to fight poverty. But if we suspend paying our debts for at least two years, we will have a huge amount to solve more than half of our country’s problems.

The saddening fact with our debts is that our government has to borrow more to be able to pay old debts, and thus the more we pay, the more we get indebted.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies—the people who plunged us all into these massive debts—must be held accountable for this appalling crime.

When Marcos took over the presidency in late 1965, the country’s foreign debts stood at only US$465 million. When he was swept from power in early 1986, those debts had reached US$26 billion—a 26,000 per cent increase! Today, the debts amount to more than US$50 billion already.

Marcos’ successors had to and will borrow vast amounts to pay those debts that he accumulated. It has now become a never-ending cycle, and only a miraculous turn of events can help and save us from being buried forever in it.

Population mismanagement. This is the next major cause. Many people keep building families and producing children even if they are unprepared and have no money.

Through massive population management programs, the people should be informed that before building families, they first must have stable livelihoods, and savings for health care, children’s education, and emergencies, and that they should produce children only according to their financial means.