Sunday, July 22, 2007

Young activists confined themselves to a small cage

Decried the country’s long incarceration to Debt payments
Confined and crammed in a small cage, members of the Youth Against Debt (YAD) today dramatized the country’s incarceration to our grave debt problem describing it as one of the obstacles why attainment of genuine economic development and distribution of much needed social services like education are negligible.
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The anti-debt youth activists conducted the dramatic action one day shy of Mrs. Arroyo’s seventh State of the Nation Address (SONA) with the message: “Pitong Taong SONA ni Gloria, Bilanggo pa rin sa utang ang masa!”

“Mrs. Arroyo and her cabal of paid hacks and political pimps are on their seventh SONA and yet our people are still incarcerated in the deadly spiral of debt payments. Clearly, their claims of economic bliss and prosperity are a big farce,” YAD spokesperson Bianca Lapuz said.

“In tandem with international financial institutions and credit-rating agencies, Mrs. Arroyo is acting as the local jail warden keeping us prisoners, locking us up to debts that we don’t owe while robbing us of our fundamental right to education,” Lapuz said.

Lapuz also said that while Mrs. Arroyo may have indeed to some extent lowered the country’s debt, it was done at such staggering human and social costs. “The religious payments of these debts are actually the prime reason why there is an estimated 14 million out-of-school youth. It is also the reason for the meager budget of our State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) which incapacitates them to perform their traditional role of acting as a social buffer against the rising cost of tertiary education,” Lapuz asserted.

The youth group stated that Philippine education is long-suffering from chronic under-spending because of the government’s policy of prioritizing debt payments over and above social services like education. The group cited this year’s budget as an example, saying that only P 145.9 B is allocated for the education sector, compared to the P 622.2 B earmarked for debt servicing.

YAD also underscored the government’s flawed policy in solving the perennial problems of education by incurring more debts or by relying on foreign loans to finance education needs. Example of this is the erroneous textbooks published by textbook cartels, which were actually funded by a US$40 million World Bank loan.

“Without doubt, what we have is a debt-creating education policy. The root of the problem is the government’s strategy of relying heavily on foreign creditors to finance education projects highly susceptible to, and even promotes, corrupt practices. Ironically, this policy would have been unnecessary should the government have chosen to allocate more to education than debt payments,” Lapuz concluded. ###

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