THE World Economic Forum reported in 2017 that the Philippines ranked 97th in the world in terms of infrastructure. What makes it a big deal?
Well, Metro Manila is draining P2.4 billion daily since 2012 due to poor infrastructure, causing traffic congestions and affecting the daily grind. This figure will be tripled by 2030, according to the study conducted by the Japan International Economic Agency.
As a band-aid solution, the present administration jumped into an ambitious Build, Build, Build program hoping to literally give a relief to traffic congestion and other shortages in the metropolitan area; at the same time to address the perennial problem of unemployment that is falling down to criminality like a domino.
I said band-aid solution because to finance these high-impact projects, the government imposed the new tax reform package through the Train law to earmark P786 billion in the next five years. We have not solved the first problem (traffic congestion and unemployment) and here we are confronting another problem—the additional burden of tax.
Even with the amassed revenue, still it is insufficient to fund these projects because a bigger chunk of the projected amount will be allotted to the impending increases of salaries for the police who forefronts the war against drugs; and the military that is also in the war against the terrorists.
The economic managers find recourse to borrow money from our neighbors, particularly Japan and China, to show to the same neighbors that our country is a beautiful place for their investment. This is another burden placed on top of the first identified problems (traffic congestion, unemployment, additional tax and now loan).
Anyways, among the high-impact projects under a loan agreement with China is the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project amounting to $62 million, wherein a provision waived our immunity to all assets, including the Reed Bank (Recto Bank) which is a rich source of gas.
Wise observers and critical thinkers this time hurled and poured heavy criticism on the onerous agreement, that in defense, the blitzkrieg Secretary Panelo said there is nothing wrong when the country offered its patrimonial assets as collateral in the China loan. Like a dirtied pig, he sank further into the mud by declaring that the Philippine government has no choice but to abide by China’s terms.
Well, all of us learned the elementary of economics that spending more than what we earn will result in an irrecoverable deficit. And we knew that post-haste loan contracts without the judicial audit will bring down the borrower’s nose to the lender’s toe.
Let this be our prayer: May the proceeds of the burdening taxation be enjoyed by all Filipinos and not only for the crescendo salaries of warriors. May the competency of the government to undertake these ambitious Build3 projects be a timely solution to the hulking heaped problems, free from corruption and bidding anomalies. And, let our offering of domestic and patrimonial resources as collateral deliver us from the evil intention of the lenders. Amen.