(UPDATED) PRESIDENT-ELECT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is not keen on tapping e-sabong or online cockfighting for revenues and is even willing to let go of it "if it will compromise the value of [the] Filipino family," his spokesman said.
Victor Rodriguez made the statement after Albay Second District Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente "Joey" Salceda said the government needed to raise P326 billion in fresh revenues yearly to trim the country's ballooning debt.
"So, even if the potential revenue, not just for e-sabong but for any industry, is really enticing, if it will compromise the moral fiber of the youth, if it will compromise the value of Filipino family, President-elect Bongbong is more than willing to let go of that lucrative source of revenue," Rodriguez told reporters.
He said the public will have to wait until Marcos assumes power to know how he plans to service this debt.
"As to how we're going to raise it, I'm sure you understand that the present dispensation is still being led by President [Rodrigo] Duterte," Rodriguez said.
"So, with all due respect and deference to the President, which we fully support, antayin na lang muna ninyo ang official assumption of president [-elect] Bongbong as president. But for now, let's support the current administration led by President Duterte," he added.
Salceda, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means, earlier said the next administration will need to raise P326 billion annually to pay the debt incurred in responding to the health pandemic.
Otherwise, he said the government will need to cut on social services or take new loans to pay the debt.
"Budget cuts aren't a very good option if you want to sustain Covid-19 growth, and of course, borrowing more to cover past borrowings is a downward spiral to fiscal hell," Salceda said.
"So, you really need to expand fiscal space. And of course, the P326 billion figure relies on current interest rates. To keep them at this level, we need to show our creditors we are in good fiscal standing. So tax policy reform is really our best option," he added.
As of January 2022, the Department of Finance reported that the Philippines had incurred a debt of $25.75 billion, equivalent to P1.3 trillion to fund the country's Covid-19 response.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez said Marcos has yet to name members of his Cabinet's economic cluster, noting that it is "challenging" to convince key officials to leave the comforts of the private sector.
"Let me put it this way, with the overwhelming mandate, allow us to let President-elect Bongbong Marcos have his own government and his own governance," Rodriguez said when asked if the Marcos administration will adopt the Duterte economic team.
"While we respect the many good people that are serving in the present administration, I think we'll just give him enough space to define his own government and have his own governance," he added.