Foreign governments should grant debt moratorium to the Philippines, if not write off Manila’s debt, to help the country increase its funding for the relief and rehabilitation needed in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda that ravaged Visayas provinces, opposition lawmakers said Monday.
Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna made the call 11 days after Super Typhoon Yolanda rammed thru Leyte, Samar, Capiz, among other provinces in the Visayas, leaving at least 3,700 people dead, 10 million people displaced and destroyed houses, roads, government offices, schools and hospitals, among others.
The P2.006 trillion budget for 2013 has allotted P333.9 billion for debt servicing—an automatic appropriation which is beyond Congress’ modification.
“We should review the national budget, see if we can free more funds intended for debt servicing, so that these can be rechanneled to the rehabilitation of devastated areas,” the Bayan Muna lawmakers said.
Aside from the debt servicing allocation, the Bayan Muna lawmakers also cited the P85.18 billion debt management fund and the P4.8 billion international commitments fund.
“We ask foreign and local banks to write off the interest payment of P333.9 billion for the year and to declare a moratorium on the principal payments. The international community should understand that we need all the funds we have to help our countrymen rise up as soon as possible and we hope that other countries would support our call,” Colmenares argued.
Zarate, for his part, noted that debt relief is really necessary because the fund is badly needed for the rehabilitation of roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, housing program and other livelihood projects.
As of Monday, November 18, foreign government have poured in P11.65 billion worth of aid for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda. Of this amount, P5.76 billion are cash, while P5.89 billion are non-cash. LLANESCA T. PANTI