Don't let dictator Duterte mortgage our future like Marcos did

It is the same thing Marcos has done to us. Long after he has been dead and buried – and re-buried even as a national hero at the Libingan ng mga Bayani – Marcos continues to burden the Philippines with the consequences of the foreign debt incurred during his time. It would therefore be foolish to forget our history, of how an authoritarian regime much like the present one has once bankrupted our nation in foreign debt, while amassing hidden wealth from international kickbacks and bribes. 

Reliving the Marcos nightmare

This early, international financial experts are already sounding the alarm on the Philippines. The new loan agreements could increase Philippine foreign debt from $123 billion to $452 billion, making the country’s debt to GDP ratio rise to 197%, or the second to worst in the world. The experts warn: "Dutertenomics, fueled by expensive loans from China, will put the Philippines into virtual debt bondage if allowed to proceed."

There are also warnings that some fly-by-night corporations with insufficient capitalization and track record, and identified with Duterte and his allies, are geared to reap the bounty in these deals, with 2%-7% in finders’ fees. Instead of Dutertenomics, we might be witnesses to Duterte Cronyism, a reprise of the Marcos business dummies of martial law, which up to the present control a large part of the Philippine economy after the monopolist growth of their businesses that were spawned in the belly of crony capitalism.

Economic imperialism of a rising giant, onerous long-term foreign loans for infrastructure projects at high interest rates, kickbacks for paper corporations and dummies, a dictator and his cronies. We might be reliving a nightmare. (READ: Marcos marked 'golden years' of PH economy? Look at data)

While we still have time, and while we still can, we should demand from the Duterte regime a full accounting of the terms of these contracted loans, the corporations and individuals behind the corporations who stand to benefit from them, the impact of incurring a huge Chinese foreign debt on our West Philippine Sea claims, and the capability of administrations beyond Duterte to pay for these loans other than by selling out our national patrimony to China.

A dictator once mortgaged our future to imperialist powers and bankrupted this nation. We cannot let another dictator do that again. –

Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since her arrest on drug-related charges on February 24, 2017. She is a former justice secretary and chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights.