Duterte pushes for more taxes to pay for huge debt pile

·Contributor
·2 min read
In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte listens during a meeting with government officials at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Monday May 23, 2022. (King Rodriguez/ Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)
In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte listens during a meeting with government officials at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Monday May 23, 2022. (King Rodriguez/ Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)

The outgoing Duterte administration, who went on a borrowing spree to fund the pandemic response and costly infrastructure projects, wants the next administration to impose new taxes to pay for the P5.3 trillion debt it contracted.

In a statement on Sunday (May 29), ACT-Teachers Rep. France Castro said that the Duterte administration only “used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to borrow trillions for infrastructure projects.”

However, only 0.107 percent of the total borrowings of the government went to the COVID-19 response, Castro said, citing data from IBON Foundation, which said only P570 billion out of P5.3-trillion borrowings were actually spent for COVID-19 response from 2020 to 2021.

Castro noted that the Duterte administration was not able to provide enough funds for aid and services during the pandemic but still managed to inflate the country’s debt.

On May 25, outgoing officials of the Department of Finance (DOF) proposed a “fiscal consolidation” plan that they hope would be used by Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to pay for the country’s huge debt.

Economic group IBON, however, said that the additional taxes proposed in the DOF’s plan are largely “consumption-based and will disproportionately burden low-income Filipinos.”

The group also highlighted the government’s spending priorities during the pandemic. It said that in 2020-2021 the government spent P1.9 trillion on mainly transport-related infrastructure projects and P2.3 trillion on debt servicing in terms of interest and principal payments, compared to just P616 billion for COVID-19 response.

ACT-Teachers’ Castro said that ordinary Filipinos should not be burdened for the failure of the Duterte administration to properly manage its fiscal position and plan its priority projects.

“Why are the poor and the middle class the first targets of the government when imposing higher taxes to gain funds for the reduction of government deficits and debt accumulation?” Castro asked.

“It should first tax the rich and large corporations instead of squeezing the already dried-up pockets of the poor and middle-class Filipinos who have been greatly hit by the pandemic economic crisis,” she added.

Meanwhile, members of Duterte’s Cabinet and other government officials gather on Monday for a two-day summit on the administration’s accomplishment.

The “Duterte Legacy Summit” which will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, will reportedly showcase the administration’s achievements and accomplishments.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings.

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