THINKTANK Ibon Foundation is calling on presidential candidates to have a clear plan on the national government's debt and deficit.

That is a very valid call; considering that once this present government leaves, we have a shell for government coffers -- dissipated, bankrupt.

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As the Bureau of Treasury (BOT) reported in December 2009, the national government registered a deficit of P6.4-billion in November thus racking up the fiscal deficit from January to November to P272.5-billion. The budget deficit ceiling for the entire year is P250-billion.

On the debt side, as of September 2009, the BOT reported, an increase of 2.5 percent equivalent to P105-billion was recorded from end August level thus placing the total outstanding debt to P4.338-trillion. Of this, 44 percent or P1.914-trillion is owed to foreign creditors while 56 percent or P2.424-trillion is owed to domestic creditors.

Why should presidential aspirants be asked to bare their plans on how to run a bankrupt government? Simply because from government's past, budget deficit and national debts are shackled on to the taxpayers... the voters.

What's that the "infomercials" are claiming these days?

It's saying the future depends on the "galing at talino" of the people. Nothing there about who will foot the bill of gaining "galing ang talino."

Another shows an aspirant giving hackneyed business advice to Michael V. acting as a stereotyped gay who owns a parlor. "Huwag kayong matakot madapa, huwag kayong matatakot na mabigo, basta kailangan desidido kayong magtagumpay." Here, the message is that we're on our own.

But we all know that a close to P300-billion budget deficit and P5-trillion debt means less spending on social services, higher debt servicing, and, the government's favorite: new and additional taxes.

It is up to us, the voters too, to demand that government bail us out instead of burying us deeper in debts we can hardly savor; like the concrete roads accompanied by very huge billboards but only go as far as the first corner from the mainroad; half-finished basketball courts that go with a promise of completion once voted in office. This is the picture of government service our national government officials have given us. Service that is long on accolades and promises but short on reach.

Now with a government running on debt and barely able to generate its own operating expenses, will the Filipinos be made to pay up anew for all the excesses those in government enjoyed during their term in office?

Will we just be fed promises of growth and development only to be told later that such can only be achieved through by the sweat of our own brows that had already been squeezed to its last drop by the corrupt in government? No one is saying anything yet. But we know very well that the power of the "bilog na hugis itlog" is in our hands.

Think Ampatuan massacre: Where could all those wealth and government-issued guns, backhoe and temerity to kill come from? Government coffers. If that is what one small, very poor town can afford to splurge, no wonder the deficit has shot up way above the ceiling set. And we haven't even discovered how many million-peso dinners have been enjoyed and how many houses have been built in the US through the years.

Now step forward, president-wannabes and tell us how you intend to run a bankrupt government and how you intend to out a stop to graft and corruption. Otherwise, no amount of infomercial can ever convince a people tired of promises and wholesale graft that indeed galing at talino (even sipag at tiyaga) can bring us the nationhood we have long desired.