Duterte wants Marcos to continue Build, Build, Build despite huge debt

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and President-elect Ferdinand
Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. (Photos: Duterte – Valerie Escalera/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP; Marcos – AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte is hoping that President-elect Bongbong Marcos will continue his “Build, Build, Build” program, which has failed to achieve its goals despite huge amounts of infrastructure-related borrowings at the height of a health crisis.

In an interview on Tuesday (June 14), acting deputy presidential spokesperson Kris Ablan said the Duterte administration is hoping that infrastructure would be among the priorities of the next leadership.

“Just a few months ago or a month ago, he (Duterte) did come out with our economic agenda that hopefully, the incoming administration would continue,” Ablan said.

Ablan was referring to the 10-point policy agenda approved by Duterte in March, which he said would fast-track the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

Duterte urged the Marcos administration on Sunday to continue pursuing big-ticket infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, only 19 key infrastructures are expected to be completed by the end of Duterte’s term, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

This is despite the trillions borrowed and spent by the administration on infrastructures only.

The DPWH has earlier reported that only P70.65 billion or 1.4% of the P5.08 trillion total costs of investments for the projects have been used.

Three largest projects completed in terms of cost include the MRT-3 Rehabilitation Project at P21.966 billion, the New Clark City Phase 1 at P18 billion, and the Clark International Airport Expansion project at P14.972 billion.

On Tuesday, the finance department announced another loan undertaken by the administration amounting to P17.4 billion from China to build a bridge connecting Davao City and Samal Island.

Using COVID-19 response as an excuse, the Duterte administration went on a borrowing spree, which nearly doubled the country’s debt from five administrations ago.

As of end-April, the country’s debt stood at P12.76 trillion, or P83.4 billion more than end-March.

The latest debt level brings the Philippines’ debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to over 63%, slightly over 60%, which is considered manageable by multilateral lenders.

Meanwhile, Finance Chief Carlos Dominguez III has earlier proposed that Marcos and the incoming economic team implement new taxes, defer scheduled tax reductions, and repeal certain tax exemptions, to pay for the government’s humongous debt.

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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