GENERATIONS of Filipinos have grown up amid rallies denouncing the country’s constantly ballooning foreign debt. In her eighth and latest State of the Nation Address, however, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo boasted that her administration has managed to retire debts in great amounts, “reducing the drag on our country’s development.”

But our latest report shows that the Philippine debt stock has, in fact, grown at a faster rate under the Arroyo administration. In her first six years in office alone, Arroyo has incurred about P3.53 trillion in foreign and domestic debt, more than double the combined total borrowings recorded in 14 years under the administration of her three predecessors.

Chart shows how post-Marcos governments have addressed the country's debt burden.

(Chart shows how the post-Marcos governments have addressed the country's debt burden.)

Arroyo has also resorted to prepaying maturing debts, resulting in P3.8-trillion payments to foreign and domestic lenders, more than double the combined debt-service payments of of her three predecessors from 1986 to 2000.

To be sure, Arroyo is only following in the footsteps of the post-Marcos governments before her by dutifully complying with the Marcosian law on automatic appropriation. Its disastrous implication, however, is that debt service has continued to be a national economic priority. More than anything, the huge amounts flowing out of the country in debt-service payments explain the spending compression — the underfunding of education, health, and public infrastructure — in the last seven years.

As Dr. Walden Bello, president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition sums it up succinctly: “It requires no special intelligence to realize that the massive amounts of money that have gone to paying our creditors to service our constantly mounting external debt was money that could not go to development.”

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10 Responses to Till debt do us part?


jag smith

August 13th, 2008 at 9:31 am

if you borrow money, you have to pay it back.



August 13th, 2008 at 10:08 pm

there is such thing as debt moratorium or debt condonation because collecting from already impoverished debtor will bring more harm than harmony in internatinal relations.



August 14th, 2008 at 3:21 am

Have the above debt statistics been properly deflated for comparability across different years? I did a similar exercise for foreign debt, foreign debt payments and domestic debt. Even when deflated (to reflect 1985 pesos), the Arroyo admin still comes out as the biggest borrower among the post-EDSA leaderships.


nosi balasi

August 14th, 2008 at 8:38 am

what happened to the borrowed money?…all i can see now is high prices of goods & services, jobless pinoys, homeless pinoys, manufacturing plant and small/big businesses closure/shutdown, pinoys displaced, and many more. i will be blind and mute if i say, this is not the current situation in our country…sayang naman marami pa na ina-idol si GMA lalo na ng mga magagaling sa inglis, mga tapos sa kolehiyo…at ng mga nakikinabang. sana daw balanse ang lahat ng mga sumusulat d2, pero mahirap balansihin talaga lalo na kung paano brasuhin ang charter change ngayon…gumagawa pa ng giyera sa mindanao matupad lang ang pangarap nila na mabuhay ng habang buhay sa pwesto.



August 14th, 2008 at 10:23 pm


what is happening with you? do not be consumed with pain and hate. it will destroy you. when i speak of balance it was not to favor GMA but PCIJ. You see I hate to see a situation where PCIJ will be labelled Anti-GMA Daily instead of PCIJ Daily. Balance in its commentary, format and articles will establish it more as a legitimate forum of ideas rather than as a broadsheet of propaganda. It was that deep concern for its legitimacy that i raised the issue of balance.

as i said: PCIJ must seek support not only from people who agree with it but even from its detractors and the best test for objectivity and legitimacy is in its ability keep its friends close and its enemies much even closer. :)

you can get that only from JCC, :)


Alecks P. Pabico

August 15th, 2008 at 4:15 pm

You are correct, cvj. I was able to get data on the annual average debt service and borrowings of the post-Marcos administrations, in real (1985) prices. And Arroyo clearly leads the pack with an average of P118.3 billion in borrowings every year from 2001 to 2007. In real prices, Aquino contracted loans amounting to an annual average of P55.9 billion from 1986 to 1992; Ramos, P23.9 billion from 1993 to 1998; and Estrada, 85.4 billion from 1999-2000.

As for debt service payments, Arroyo also paid the most at an annual average of P126.9 billion, followed by Estrada with P64.7 billion; Aquino, P55.9 billion; and Ramos, P52.7 billion.



August 16th, 2008 at 8:12 pm

debt?? its obvious even today,our workforce,our OFWs who left with nothing but choices,leave the country for greener pasture,or live in here and suffer?

debt is what our OFWs paying, we actually selling them.One has to say,She is proud of our OFWs.OFWs are our heroes.But not quite!

No matter what they do,working outside still would give them nothing.see for example the playful trick being played with our economy,as they are praising Peso reached its strength,on the otherhand, nothing as bitter than depleting the rate of These OFWs who are sending money to their loved ones here.

Peso at stake will always be enjoyable if we just can feel and savor the comfort in this country.
I will be a part of peso’s boosting club if I see many filipino staying in this country, serving our people,rather than kicking their ass of, working like donkey in another alien’s state.

I will be proud of our economy if I dont see a family of 5 complaining about the basic needs’ prices.
debt-its a gem that the 100th generations after me are obliged to pay.

No escape for that..

No need for Crystal ball-if charter change will be amended I foresee much poverty,crimes,even slavery to be the living of every struggling Filipino.


nosi balasi

August 17th, 2008 at 8:12 am

no jcc…this was not hatred and pain…this is the reality…the government has lack of credibility and a generally anti-people armed forces. First, the AFP has lost so much credibility with the corruption scandals involving active and retired officers. The Oakwood mutiny showed a deep crack in the system, a fault line in the AFP leadership. It does not have credible and trustworthy leaders, not even among the ex-generals who may use the armed forces for their own ends.The Officer Corps has lost its moral compass and is fragmented. Second, having been a pacification army since colonial times, the armed forces has become an “alien force” defending the interests of the ruling elite against the masses. The masses do not trust the armed forces. If a million squatters today hold a people power at the EDSA Shrine, I doubt if the generals will drop their support for the President and join the masses. . From a constitutional point of view, the AFP leadership in EDSA Dos was clearly unprofessional. They mutinied against their commander-in-chief who represented a great majority of the Filipino people and they gravely undermined the Constitution. Consciously or unconsciously, the generals preserved the military’s power using a loud and powerful minority as cover against the silent and weak majority. Since there has been no real change in governance and only change in personalities, the action of the AFP leadership in 2001 was misguided and self-serving. They were desperados who merely enabled the trade of one set of crooks and nightsticks for another…that’s why I am saying…GMA is idolized by the elite groups, mga inglesero, matatalino at nakapagaral sa kolehiyo, at mga nakikinabang…are you one of them? i hope not.

We pride ourselves as a democratic nation. But our democracy is a sham as politicians manipulate the system to perpetuate themselves in power. How can we even think that we have a democracy when elections, the very soul of democracy, is being perverted by the very public officials who should protect the sanctity of the ballot. Democracy is also not just all about having elections or a Constitution. It is also about having the active and sustained participation of the people through democratic institutions like barangay assemblies, people’s organizations, trade unions and political parties. What the Government do instead, they instruct their military and PNP to spy on them.
Democracy is also not just the freedom to vote or the freedom of speech or religious freedom. It is also about being able to live with pride and dignity. It is also about economic freedom enabling the practice of these rights. How can one vote if he cannot afford to go to the polling station? How can one practice his religion when he cannot afford to go to church or has to commit sin to feed his family? How can one practice free speech if he cannot even read the newspaper? The government must be able to improve people’s lives so they can exercise their freedoms.

Umuutang ang gobyerno at para saan ba? to have economic freedom ba or to improve the lives of the filipino people? or to support the national program for economic development? or para mapunan yung mga nakuha na nila?

Instead of alienating the insurgents, the government should reach out and engage them, understand their plight, initiate confidence- and trust-building measures and resolve the matter peacefully. The approach must be holistic as a major factor in insurgency is the absence of government in the remote areas where the rebels are strong. All government agencies should be involved in delivering basic services to the people. However, this government services are non-existent or not felt very much in the countryside. Insurgency is still the major security concern – Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and the Mindanao separatist and terrorist groups. The communist insurgency is tied to political and economic realities that continue to fuel popular discontent compounded by government neglect and military abuse. On the other hand, the Muslim groups are now linked with other Islamic fundamentalist groups in the region thus broadening the problem. The military approach to the insurgency has been described as a “conflict trap” with “the rebels too weak to defeat the AFP and the AFP too inept to defeat the rebels”. To get out of this trap, the AFP has to break out of its Martial Law/Cold War mentality with its outmoded approaches. Against the left for example, the Anti-Subversion Law has been repealed and the left organizations have entered mainstream politics with party-list groups in Congress. The military should now learn to deal with them in a different way, one which does not violate its own code of ethics. But what is the government leaders want to do now?…they want to change our form of Government…for the very poor reasons…that the basic services will be delivered quickly, no more bureaucratic processes, laws will be passed and implemented quickly, corruption will be avoided or decreased and so on…wow…for me…in my point of view…they just want to shove away those NGO’s, militant groups, watchdogs, rallies, expose…. out of their sight…kase nga nagiging mahiyain na sila ngayon…gusto daw nilang maging tahimik na yung bansa natin from politics. jcc, i am a friend, yu hir! yah man!(jamaican accent) :)


Bob Malit

August 17th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

All your comments are focused on what Pres. GMA has done. How about the over 20 years of Marcos when billions of dollars were pocket by Marcos & Cronies. Was there any meaningful investment on critical infrastructures made – roads, freeway systems, water and power upgrades, sewerage management systems, irrigation systems (rain water recoverty, processing and distribution systems), how about the monopolies perpetuated – like PAL, etc that prevent competition instead of promoting competition to generate job creations;

Then comes EDSA, after Ninoy got killed pushing Cory Aquino to become President – paving Party-List leftist empowerment in Philippine Politics; Ramos and Estrada presidency didn’t do any meaninful investment either, moreover, more graft and corruption diverted billions more into select few bottomless pockets;

The above all happened in the 20th Century. Fast foreward to the 21st Century where economic competition is globalized and is happening at the speed of lightning. Because of the inferior Philippine infrastructures, inferior finanacial markets and banking systems – Philippine based enterprises and entrepreneurs cannot compete much more survive brutal competitions of developed and developing economies.

What the Philippines – all Filipinos need is a 21st Century mindset – the like of President GMA looking at Macro-economics instead of a myopic understanding of micro-economics. Filipinos are fixated on who is right and wrong – blaming and fighting amongst themselves – instead of focusing on how could we (filipinos) work together to solve our problems….

I left the Philippines in 1964 progressive, since the Marcos years to now – the Philippines has continue to declined terribly. Why? The bottomline is FILIPINOS DO NOT LOVE THEIR COUNTRY, THEREFORE DO NOT LOVE EACH OTHER, AS SUCH THEY WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT EACH OTHER UNTIL THEY DESTROY EACH OTHER.

Look no further, Learn from the South Koreans VS the North Koreans- Who among them are progressive and prosperous?

There lies the answer to your rationalizations.



August 20th, 2008 at 2:39 am

21st century mindset and macro-economics…nakakain po ba yun? :) joke!

GMA are applying these managements skills very effective but she should step her foot in the Philippines. Yes, she feels that she’s in the United States, and she wanted so badly to make a change on our form of Government.

So I believe by the 21st century, there will be no more staple foods to eat…only instant noodles na lang…tipid nga naman…macro-economics style.

Maswerte yung mga nasa abroad tulad ko…di ko na aabutan yung instant noodles sa 21st century…na pangunahing pagkain ng mga Pinoy sa Pilipinas.

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