MANILA - Presidential aspirant Leni Robredo on Friday said money borrowed by the government from lenders must be used properly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vice President's statement came as the Senate's probe on the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 response funds continued, and a week after the Bureau of Treasury announced that the government's debt ballooned to P11.9 trillion as of September.
"Alam mo, iyong utang is not necessarily bad... If I remember right, nasa 40 plus iyong debt-to-GDP ratio natin. Sabi natin, puwede pang umutang," Robredo said in a press briefing in Negros Occidental.
(Debt is not necessarily bad. If I remember right, our debt-to-GDP ratio is 40 plus, we said it's still okay to borrow money.)
"Pero iyong problema ng utang natin, hindi natin nagamit—hindi natin nagastos nang tama... alam natin na umutang na tayo nang umutang, iyong korapsyon ang laki-laki pa rin," she explained.
(The problem is we don't use the money properly. We keep on borrowing money but the corruption is still high.)
Robredo said that funds would be rendered "useless" if these just go to corruption and not for the country's COVID-19 response.
Debt should also be controlled, she said.
"So anong use ng pag-utang natin kung iyong inutang natin mapupunta lang naman sa korapsyon?" according to the Vice President.
(What's the use of borrowing money if it just goes to corruption?)
"So sa akin, ang pag-utang is not necessarily bad basta controlled iyong pag-utang and iyong paggamit ng inutang ay maayos."
(Debt is not bad but it should be controlled and be put to good use.)
Since the start of the year, the Philippines has added P2.12 trillion to its obligations.
This year alone, the country added P1.69 trillion to its domestic obligations, and P428.98 billion to its foreign debt.
The Senate's inquiry on the government's pandemic response funds has found out that the budget department's procurement service awarded billions of pesos worth of government contracts to the company that only had less than a million pesos in paid-up capital.
The Blue Ribbon Committee has so far recommended the filing of various charges against Pharmally's officers, Chinese businessman and former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang, and former budget Undersecretary Christopher Lao, among others, due to the allegedly anomalous transactions.