By Trinity Biglang Awa and Gerry Albert Corpuz
Manila, Philippines- The Philippine government according to one of its finance officials had announced that a total of P 150-million in taxpayers money was spent for the successful meeting of financial gurus attending the 45th governors meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila.
But the price tag raised eyebrows of one the rabid critics of Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. In fact, one of them is demanding a truthful accounting of how much taxpayers money was spent for what it called a rest and recreation acitvity of global speculators.
One of the staunch critics of President Aquino III on Monday urged Malacanang to disclose to the public the amount that Filipino taxpayers money were spent for the 45th meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) held in Manila from May 2 -5.
“In the name of public interest, we put to task Mr. Aquino and his finance officials to tell the Filipino taxpayers the truth and nothing but the truth on how much of our people’s hard earned taxes were spent for this coming out party of finance oligarchs in 67 countries all over the world,” said the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a press statement.
“The 101 million Filipinos need an aboveboard explanation and honest-to-goodness accounting on how Malacanang wasted hundreds of millions of pesos of taxpayers’ money for this grand eyeball of financial speculators in Manila,” said Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap.
The Department of Finance (DoF) earlier reported that the Philippine government alloted P 150-milllion for the ADB meeting in Manila, while the rest of the expenses were shouldered by big business groups based in the country. Finance Assistant Secretary Teresa Habitan said the government had an approved budget of P150 million for the ADB conference. She said the private sector also earmarked funds as co-sponsors of the event.
The DoF official also said the Asian Carmakers Corp. (ACC), distributor of BMW vehicles in the country and Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) supported the hosting of ADB conference in Manila. She said the ACC lent a fleet of around 90 units of BMW 5-Series, while HARI fielded 50 units of its 10-seater Grand Starex for the transportation needs of the participants.
Pamalakaya’s Hicap likened the recent ADB meeting in Manila to “garage sale” where Aquino’s PPP projects were auctioned to the highest bidders, and at the same time a reminder to the Philippine government that it has to pay P 44 billion in total loan for the controversial Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program which the government loaned from ADB and the World Bank.
“ADB top guns were here last week to tell Aquino that the financial assistance on CCT is not a grant but a loan payable within the next two decades. On top of the financial aid, the ADB financial kingpins wish to remind Malacanang that in exchange for the CCT loan, the Philippine economy has to be opened to investor clients under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program of the Aquino administration,” said Pamalakaya.
The group said the 4,300 financial officials of ADB are here to scout for investments that would allow their idle capital to accumulate under the PPP program. The militant leader said ADB financial executives are eager to put their money on mining, water and electricity, oil and gas explorations and even reclamation of foreshore areas across the country.
Citing a recent study conducted by independent think tank Ibon Foundation, Pamalakaya said President Aquino will be compelled to honor total loan service to WB and ADB amounting to at least US$ 1.007 billion or Php44.31 billion at current exchange rate.
Pamalakaya said the Aquino government and the succeeding administration will have to pay US$202 million or Php8.9 billion in projected interest payments – US$94.6 million to the WB and US$107.4 million to the ADB for fresh loans acquired by the present government for CCT purpose.
‘In the next 20 years, Filipino taxpayers will pay 44 billion pesos in total payment for white elephant program known as CCT, and this additional burden will take its toll on debt ridden Filipinos in the next twenty years,” the group said. Pamalakaya said the CCT is used by financial operators of ADB as grease money to secure PPP projects to be funded by foreign investors and financial institutions abroad.
Pamalakaya said ADB and private clients abroad are looking forward to invest in 102 reclamation projects, 38 of these projects are in Manila Bay covering a total of 26, 234 hectares of foreshore land along the bay. The group maintained these reclamation projects will lead to massive eviction of fishermen and urban poor residents and will destroy the marine environment and people’s livelihood chiefly fishing and fishing related activities.