MANILA, JUNE 29, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Norman Bordadora - It is the Philippines’ obligation to help countries in dire need of funding through the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Malacañang said on Thursday.

Edwin Lacierda, President Benigno Aquino’s spokesperson, made the remark in response to a suggestion that the Philippines’ $1-billion loan to the IMF was rather risky for a country that continues to deal with hunger and poverty issues.

“We have been a recipient of IMF assistance for the past 40 years. Now, that we have been considered a creditor nation, we feel it is our obligation to assist those nations who require funding from IMF,” Lacierda told reporters in a news briefing.

“This would also help in stabilizing the crisis that’s going on in Europe. As to whether it is risky or not, we believe that IMF will act judiciously on the funds,” he added.

Lacierda said the IMF now has a standby fund for around $456 billion and the Philippines contributed $1 billion to that fund.

“It is our responsibility; it is part of our obligation [to the] IMF who has assisted us during our times of crisis in the Philippines,” Lacierda said.

In a separate statement, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco said the Philippines will get returns from the loan it extended to the IMF.

“For nearly 40 years until 2006, the Philippines itself was a net borrower from the IMF. We finally fully paid our loans to IMF in December 2006 as the implementation of continuing reforms have made our economy stronger,” Tetangco said.

“Today, our economic fundamentals are sound, our banks are able to meet domestic credit needs, and we are capable of lending $1 billion from our international reserves to the IMF. This is a loan to the IMF and we will get our money back with interest,” he said.

“In effect, by extending a loan to the IMF that will earn money for the Philippines we are also able to help other nations saddled with financial problems. Other nations have also committed to help IMF address the current financial crisis,” he added.



[PHOTO - Renato Magtubo of Partido ng Manggagawa at a rally against EVAT. Photo taken from his Facebook account.]

The $1-billion loan of the Philippines to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will backfire against overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM or Workers’ Party) said at a rally Wednesday.

“The $1 billion -- which is the blood and sweat of our OFWs -- will harm our own migrant workers in Europe since the IMF’s austerity schemes dictate cuts in wages, reduction in social programs, and liberalization of labor contractualization,” PM national chairman Renato Magtubo said.

“By extending the loan to the IMF, our OFWs and Europeans workers will earn less, lose public services, and be easier to fire,” he added.

Rivera said only the bankers will benefit from the IMF bailout.

“Ordinary Europeans and migrant workers suffer the pains of austerity. In opposing the loan to the IMF, we are extending the hand of solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Europe. It is amazing that PNoy readily comes to the aid of European bankers but he is blind and deaf to the cries of the Filipino workers for wage increase and regular jobs here in the country,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, PM and Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (Palea) members picketed the Bangko Sentral headquarters and office of the Department of Finance to protest against the controversial loan, chanting “Help the needy not the greedy! Support Europeans thru solidarity not austerity!”

Gerry Rivera, Palea president, noted that Europeans themselves have rejected the IMF bailout and its conditionalities.

“By protests and through the polls, the workers and people of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and France have all rejected IMF austerity,” Rivera said.

Today’s rally today also coincided with the 9th month anniversary of Palea’s fight against outsourcing. Last September 27, Palea launched a protest action against contractualization and up to now maintains a picketline outside the PAL In-Flight Center. Palea has called on the new management of the national carrier led by Ramon Ang to revive the company by reinstating its regular workers. “After nine months of protest, Palea continues to labor for justice,” Rivera said.

‘No global stability’

In reply to Presidential spokeman Edwin Lacierda’s assertion that the loan would help global stability, Magtubo said IMF is actually “destabilizing the economies of Europe.”

Despite receiving several bailouts from the IMF, Greece has been in recession for five years running with unemployment at more than 20 percent in general but more than 50 percent for the youth, he said.

This year, Spain fell into a double-dip recession with unemployment rates similar to Greece, he said. This will be aggravated by austerity measures dictated in the recent bailout scheme, he added.

“Just like Europe, the Philippines too is a victim to the anti-labor and anti-people policies of the IMF. Liberalization has led to the collapse of Philippine industry and agriculture resulting in job losses and rural unemployment. Privatization and deregulation have led to price hikes and worsening poverty,” Rivera explained.

That is why, he said, “It is time for a paradigm shift,” that is, uphold growth and hope instead of recession and injustice in both Europe and Asia. Shift to a new paradigm of living wages, regular jobs, taxes on the rich, social services, national industrialization, and agrarian reform,” Rivera added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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