What Will Ever Be Enough?

It was interesting- hearing that we’d all be assigned to serve in different civil service organizations for this semester’s NSTP meetings. Among the “four corners” we had to choose from in the SE Auditorium, I decided to go with Economic Nationalism, and chose to intern in the institution that our group thought sounded the most familiar, the Freedom from Debt Coalition. A few weeks into the program, we were tasked to attend a “creative movement” outside the Asian Development Bank, where FDC stood its stand, urging ADB to aid Yolanda relief efforts, instead of giving out additional loans to the government. Analyzing the situation and arguments of both sides, I did see why FDC would have such a stand on an issue such as this. From what I understood, they are concerned because of the government acquiring loans they (and the Filipinos) would have a hard time paying for in the future because of the ‘high’ cost of borrowing. The first thing I asked myself was, did ADB ever give the Philippines help in form of an aid, then? Interviewing one of ADB’s representatives present at the demonstration, our group learned that the institution has given the Philippines nearly $20 million for rehabilitation of the damages caused by typhoon Yolanda. Personally, what went through my mind then was, ADB, or any institution of similar purpose could only do so much ($20 million does go a long way, when used properly, which is another issue in itself). Until where do they want ADB to give out aids, $100 million, $300 million, or even $500 million? One of the things I’ve learned through that experience was that perhaps we must look at their (ADB and other similar institutions) help in a positive light, because if we really did want to help, we can always start with our OWN efforts and what we have to give, and not refuse to see the good that others have done.

-Dy, Lauren D. L.

2 thoughts on “What Will Ever Be Enough?

  1. Hi Lauren!

    Though I agree with the fact that pledging the 20 million dollars as a debt is an outstanding burden that will be borne not only by Filipino citizens now but by Filipinos far into the future, from an economist’s perspective, it is difficult to concede and to simply say that it SHOULD be given for free. After all, the funds from the ADB, when placed to a particular use (such as the rehabilitation efforts for Typhoon Yolanda), will not be available for another use or purpose. The opportunity cost to simply “give it for free” is very high, even though the benefits for doing so might even be greater (improved lives of the typhoon victims plus economic development in typhoon-stricken areas).

    20 million dollars is not a “little” amount. You’re right; imagine what good can be done when it is used to buy medicines, food and construction materials that will benefit our countrymen. I am especially frustrated in light of the PDAF scandal because BILLIONS of pesos are siphoned off from the government’s coffers into the pockets of self-interested individuals while people are starving and homeless in the Visayas. The situation becomes ridiculous.

  2. Being also present at this mobilization and a fellow intern at the Freedom from Debt Coalition, I must say that the FDC and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice can’t be blamed for making such demands, considering what these two organizations stand for. However, not being completely aware of how these development banks work, I wondered then whether the FDC thought that such institutions could pull money out of a hat and give it to countries in need. A more direct approach would be to demand compensation relating to climate justice from the governments of nations with the greatest contribution to climate change, but it could take years or decades before the Philippines receives it, should it receive anything at all.

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