Robredo: Debt not bad if it doesn't go to corruption, returns should be 'thousandfold'

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 26 2022 09:29 PM

Vice President Leni Robredo visits the provincial capitol of Zamboanga Sibugay on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. OVP handout 
Vice President Leni Robredo visits the provincial capitol of Zamboanga Sibugay on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. OVP handout 

MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo said while taking out government loans is not necessarily bad, these should not go to corruption and must yield returns a “thousandfold.” 

The Philippine government’s debt stood at a record P11.97 trillion at the end of October, the Bureau of Treasury has said. 

Robredo said if she wins the presidency in May, she would honor the commitments on this debt because the integrity of the country was at stake.

“Pero sisiguraduhin ko na iyong inutang natin, lalo in the last few years na doon talaga tumambak iyong utang natin, sisiguraduhin ko na iyong perang inutang natin ay napunta siya sa mga bagay na ang return sa atin, a thousandfold,” Robredo said. 

“Kung umutang tayo tapos ang return sa atin ay hindi naman malaki, bakit pa tayo umutang?” she said in an interview with veteran host Boy Abunda that was streamed Wednesday. 

(But I will ensure that our debt, especially in the last few years when it ballooned, I will ensure that the money went to things in which the return was thousandfold. If we took loans and the return was not great, why did we even get a loan?) 

She said she would scrutinize all loan agreements and how funds were spent. 

“Hindi masama ang umutang kung kinakailangan talaga ito, and as I have said, iyong returns nito sa atin, mas malaki doon sa inutang mo,” said the Vice President who is an economist.

(Debt is not bad if it is really needed, and as I have said, if the returns to us are greater than the loan.) 

“Pero masama ang utang kung ito ay napunta sa korapsyon. Masama ang utang kung ito napunta sa mga bagay na hindi naman iyong karamihan sa mga Pilipino ang makikinabang,” she said. 

(But debt is bad if this went to corruption, and if it was spent on things that do not benefit majority of Filipinos.)

Robredo noted the debt to gross domestic ratio has gone up to around 60 percent, from around 40 percent before the coronavirus pandemic. 

This meant, “Wala na tayong elbow room [umutang]… Delikado na tayo na baka hindi mabayaran," she said. 

(We no longer have elbow room. We are in danger of failing to settle our debt.)

She said the country must raise its GDP. 

To do this, she said, “Aayusin natin iyong pamahalaan. Aayusin natin iyong mga institusyon. Aayusin natin iyong tiwala ng tao sa pamahalaan kasi iyon lang ang paraan kung paano natin mapapalakas ulit ang ating GDP, ang ating growth rate.” 

(We will fix the government, the institutions, the trust of people in government because that is the only way we can strengthen our GDP, our growth rate.)

She acknowledged that if she becomes president, “It is it not enough that I say na hindi ako magiging kurakot (I would not be corrupt).” 

“Ang commitment ko, ‘pag ako Presidente na, sisiguraduhin kong ma-legislate iyong mga mechanisms to prevent corruption,” Robredo said. 

(My commitment is if I become President, I will ensure that mechanisms to prevent corruption would be legislated.)

These mechanisms include the full disclosure of government transactions even without public request, which Robredo tried to push as a former member of the House of Representatives, she said. 
 

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