The Planned Loan from the Asian Development Bank…and its impending further bleeding of the Filipinos!

The Planned Loan from the Asian Development Bank

…and its impending further bleeding of the Filipinos!

By Apolinario Villalobos

Months ago, at least two surveys reported that the Philippines has been recovering from its economic woes, with the figure of unemployment reduced, rice in abundance, etc. Yet, it was followed by the “fluctuation” of the peso due to underspending of the government and of course, the people who has nothing to spend, anyway, then the announcement that the government is importing rice to buffer its stock to prevent hunger. Lately, the confusing scenario is worsened by the joint statement of ADB President Takehiko Nakao and Philippine Finance Secretary that Asian Development Bank, based in Metro Manila is ready to increase loans from USD1.8 billion for 2015-2017 up to USD 3billion from 2016 to 2018, and as based on the country’s latest accountability, would be about 66 percent increase!

The series of loans shall purportedly continue to “support the country’s infrastructure needs, programs to strengthen high school education, job creation for the youth, social protection and development in the southern Philippines.” Purisima added that support from ADB “ is crucial and quality education and infrastructure are needed to fuel growth beneficial to all.” Wow!…what a mouthful avowal!

The country is now wallowing in debt renewed every year for the same reasons but no tangible result can be seen. The glaring example is the K-12 program which has been haphazardly launched without the needed preparation due to the “lack of fund”!…no materials, no teachers appropriately trained, lack of rooms – the same problems since after the Martial Law! What is funny, even with the billions of donations for the rehabilitation of the Yolanda typhoon (Hayan) victims, not a single statement from the government about its progress is heard. So, what “funding” can the government honestly handle, when even the mentioned donation is being viewed as mishandled…and with so many questions about it left unanswered?

And, what infrastructure is Purisima talking about?….the “built and destroyed” roads for what reason, the people already know, if not due to poor quality of materials used by contractors?….there are many government structures that need refurbishing but are left untouched! Purisima should go out to the countryside to validate his statements that indeed, the loans are being used for the building of infrastructure – check for himself, the length of highways and roads already built, number of bridges already finished, and most especially, farm to market roads that have been “really” built!

On tourism, what has the government done? If not for the initiative and resourcefulness of the local facilities and tour operators, the industry would have gone down the drain due to neglect. What little historic remains of the once hated Spanish colonialism are left to rot due to non-availability of funds but the Filipinos are surprised at the notoriously hefty amounts of money that have gone to the pockets of the unscrupulous government officials…that is why, there are cases being investigated now. What a shame!

The Philippines is a sucker to what ADB keeps on telling the world that its economy has grown rapidly for several years and expanded 6.1 percent in 2014, forecasting still, that by the end of 2015, it will rise to 6.4 percent, and 6.3 percent in 2016. Are the ADB people serious about their revelation? Where did they get their information?…from paid survey firms? What economy is this bank talking about with the practice of the five-month contractual employment going on?…the decline of agriculture industry?…the mining industry given on silver platter to the foreign miners, especially, Chinese?…. the poor Filipinos left with the sidewalk vending business while decent ones are left to the Chinese and Koreans in malls that these same foreigners built? Are these foreign “investors” expected to invest further in the country, as common sense dictates that they should bring back to their country what earnings they have sucked from this ailing country?

The presence of the BPO outfits in the country should not be relied on to bolster its economic foundation. These are service-oriented companies that can easily be pulled out anytime, just like the factories. They rely on service output that can be done anywhere with cheap labor. Try to imagine if these BPOs and factories suddenly transferred their companies to neighboring Asian countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam or Cambodia, because of unrest in the country, and what do we get?…ghost economic processing zones of Cavite, Baguio, Cebu; empty commercial buildings vacated by BPOs, and unemployed four-year course university and college graduates – call center agents, gawking at emptiness pitifully left with developed vices of smoking and drinking!

The government should wake up to the reality that the country’s economy is crucially hinged on remittances of OFW, toiling pitifully, some even in inhuman situations, in countries  some of which are already feeling the pang of economic adversity that is slowly gripping the world.

The government should never mention quality education to bolster its “accomplishment”, with the yearly tuition increase that its concerned agencies are tolerating. The situation is worsened, again, by the K-12 program that has become the dead- end for the aspirations of the youth, who cannot even afford a backpack for school materials and a decent pair of shoes, much more a breakfast of gruel before going to school.

So, if the loan from the ADB materializes, the guess of my dumbfounded compatriots about this shocking revelation, as to where the money shall go…is as good as mine! …nothing has changed for our beloved country, despite the proliferation of university-educated officials that hold its reins…some even claiming to be descendants of historic political figures!