MANILA – The Philippines’s debt has breached the P11 trillion level as loans made by the national government amid the pandemic continued to grow.

And the government plans to borrow  additional P3.02 trillion this year to speed up the recovery of the economy.

The Bureau of the Treasury reported on July 5 that the government’s outstanding financial obligations rose 24 percent to P11.071 trillion in May from P8.89 trillion in the same month last year.

Of the total amount outstanding, about 28 percent is owed to foreign creditors.

At end-May, domestic debt jumped 31 percent year-on-year to P7.915 trillion from P6.034 trillion, while foreign obligations hit P3.115 trillion, up 10 percent compared with P2.856 trillion a year before.

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima reacted to the report on the record high P11 trillion debt of the national government. “Is it Build, Build, Build or Debt, Debt, Debt? That is the question of the hour. With countless unfulfilled promises, one cannot help but do the math and ask who actually gained from these projects. Bayan ba talaga ang nakinabang, o bayan ang namuhunan sa pagpapataba ng bulsa ng mga korap at ganid?” she said in a statement.

De Lima continued: “With a record-breaking ₱11.07 trillion in debt, the Duterte Administration continues to be on a borrowing frenzy. And they’re far from done. Mukhang ginawa na ngang hobby ang pangungutang. Ang masaklap, taumbayan na naman ang maiiwan upang pagdusahan ang kagagawan ng iilan.

“Duterte’s debt spree must be kept in check considering Duterte’s infamous sly tactics and his minions’ ineptitude, negligence, and failure of coming up with a solid, well thought-out fiscal plan. Hindi naman maaaring hayaan lang na tumaba ang bulsa ng iilan habang milyon-milyong Pilipino ang patuloy na nagugutom at naghihikahos.

“Contrary to Duterte’s claims, may pera ang gobyerno! Ang problema, sa ibang mga proyekto inilalaan, at ibang tao ang nakikinabang.

“In fact, even before the pandemic, Duterte already began his debt addiction by signing loans to fund his supposed “legacy” as the Golden Age of Infrastructure. But with less than a year before our country’s nightmare under his administration ends, all they can brag about are PNoy administration infrastructure projects that they simply completed. The Duterte administration’s dismal performance in the Build, Build, Build Program is undeniable, with most projects claimed by Duterte being properly attributable to PNoy. Pati mga proyekto niya inutang lang niya kay PNoy para kunwari meron din siyang nagawa, at hindi lang sya puro ngawa.

“What adds salt to injury is that despite the trillions of loans acquired by Duterte to supposedly finance our COVID-19 response measures, we still rank second-lowest among 53 countries in a COVID-19 resilience study.

“Kulelat po tayo sa 53 bansa pagdating sa porsyento ng mga taong nabakunahan, kalubhaan ng mga lockdown, kapasidad sa paglipad at mga ruta sa pagbiyahe ng nabakunahan at iba pang indicators tulad ng fatality at positivity rate. Imbes na ayusin natin yung mga kakulangan, inaaway lang ni Duterte at mga tagapagsalita niya ang nagsasabi ng totoong kalagayan.

“Sa sobrang kapalpakan, ang ?6.49 billion na pang-ayuda sana sa mga kababayan nating nangangailangan ay hindi naipamahagi hanggang nawalan na ng bisa ang Bayanihan 2. Perang inutang, natutulog lang dahil panay din ang tulog ng Pangulo.

“One thing is certain. Duterte’s legacy is a Golden Age of Debt! Duterte’s debt legacy would be nightmarish for the next President, a humongous burden for us and the next generations,” de Lima said.

Month-on-month, the government’s total debt stock increased slightly by 0.73 percent from P10.991 trillion in April.

According to the Treasury, the strong peso tempered further increases in debt between April and May.

External debt went down during the month by 0.74 percent from P3.179 trillion in April due to the P28.58 billion impact of local-currency appreciation against the US Dollar and the net repayment of foreign loans amounting to P220 million.

Meanwhile, domestic debt increased 1.3 percent from P7.812 trillion in April as a result of the net issuance of government securities.

Amid rising debt stock, the national government’s borrowings continued to expand.

Gross borrowings of the national government in the first five-month totaled P1.713 trillion, an increase of 13 percent compared with P1.509 trillion in the same period last year, the treasury reported

Domestic financing amounted to P1.459 trillion at end-May, higher by 26 percent from P1.152 trillion a year ago.

Foreign borrowings, meanwhile, declined 29 percent to P253 billion from P356.64 billion in the previous year.

The January to May borrowings account for 57 percent of the government’s P3 trillion program for the year to bridge the budget deficit.

Last week, President Duterte raised P3 billion, equivalent to P146 billion, through the sale of global bonds.

The Philippines breaching the P11 trillion debt level in May is still midrange among lower-middle income countries, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed the Bureau of Treasury’s (BTr) announcement that total outstanding debt jumped to an all-time high of P11.071 trillion as the government borrowed more from the domestic market to fund its pandemic response.

He also assured that the Philippines has the capacity to pay its debts even as it ramped up its borrowings to finance measures to address the prevailing coronavirus health crisis.

Meanwhile, Roque said the Palace has yet to confirm reports that P6.49 billion under the Republic Act 11519 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) were unused as the measure expired last week.

He also appealed to Vice President Leni Robredo to withhold making conclusions until the report is released.

Robredo earlier said that it was “disappointing” to see such a large amount of money not being used when many could have benefited from it.

“We will be able to confirm kung magkano po yung magre-revert sa (how much will be reverted to the) National Treasury but only on July 15. And I ask the Vice President, who is an economist, please let’s wait for data before we make conclusions,” Roque added.