Martial law legacies still hound nation

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In remembering the declaration of martial law every year on Sept. 21, we recall not only the crimes and abuses, but also the valiant struggle and sacrifices of our people to end fascism. Let us not forget this dark chapter in our nation’s history so that it will not happen again.

Sept. 21 should as well be a day of reckoning. This year’s anniversary, the 40th, reminded us that our pursuit of justice for the countless victims of martial law abuses is not over; that we must continue to seek redress for grievances, including the criminal legacies that until now hound and harm our people.

Among these are the illegitimate debts that hardly benefited the people because of corruption. The plunder of our economy plunged the people into mass poverty. Filipino families lived below the poverty line, while Marcos, his wife and their cronies indulged in scandalous opulence and extravagance. Today, Filipino taxpayers still bear the cost of the regime’s foreign debts; they will until 2025.

Successive post-martial law administrations not only failed to deliver economic justice to the people, it honored and paid these fraudulent debts with the people’s money. And they repackaged, even enhanced, the discredited, flawed, ill-fated economic policies and strategies of the dictatorship, denying our people the blessings of development and stripping the majority of them of their dignity for the benefit of the few elite and powerful, as well as their foreign partners and backers.

They affirmed the Marcos practice of automatic appropriations for debt servicing at the expense of health, education and basic social services that the government is duty-bound to provide our people. This policy contributed to a perennial and seemingly vicious cycle of budget shortfalls and fiscal crises, continued debt and interest payments, etc.

They used the budget and the debt crisis they inherited from Marcos as reasons to allow the imposition of neoliberal policies (like privatization and deregulation of essential public services like water and power) by multinational and international financial institutions in exchange for more loans and other measures to ride out their fiscal problems, to the detriment of the majority poor consumers. Their stubborn policy of debt repayments and inability to spend and invest have consigned our country not only to a debt trap but also to economic stagnation.

Today, under P-Noy, the country’s foreign debt stands at a whopping $62.9 billion. For next year, P810.233 billion is earmarked for both interest payments and principal amortization. The continuing failure of the present administration to prioritize the people’s needs and welfare over debt servicing perpetuates not only the Marcos misdeeds but also the economic injustice to the Filipino people.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition demands freedom from debt bondage and economic justice for our people.

No to automatic debt servicing at the expense of people’s rights and welfare! Yes to repayment of social debt to the people!

—SAMMY GAMBOA,

OIC national secretariat,

BOBBY DICIEMBRE, media officer,

Freedom from Debt Coalition,

mail@fdc.ph

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