News / Economy

UN Rights Expert Urges Debt Relief for Philippines

FILE - Typhoon survivors living in temporary shelters are seen near ships that ran aground, nearly 100 days after super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in central Philippines, Feb. 14, 2014.
FILE - Typhoon survivors living in temporary shelters are seen near ships that ran aground, nearly 100 days after super Typhoon Haiyan devastated Tacloban city in central Philippines, Feb. 14, 2014.
Reuters
A United Nations human rights expert on Tuesday urged international creditors to cancel the Philippines' debt and give it unconditional grant aid instead of new loans to fund massive post-typhoon reconstruction.
 
The Southeast Asian country, hit hard five months ago by Typhoon Haiyan -- one of the strongest storms to make landfall anywhere -- estimated the total cost of a four-year reconstruction effort could surpass the current estimate of 361 billion pesos ($8 billion).
 
The Philippines' outstanding external debt was $58.5 billion at the end of 2013, according to the central bank.
 
“I welcome the international support provided to the Philippines in the aftermath of the cyclone, but am concerned that more than $22 million leaves the country everyday, paying off overseas debts,” Cephas Lumina said.
 
Lumina is an independent expert charged by the U.N. Human Rights Council to monitor the effects of foreign debt on the enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.
 
Haiyan, which swept ashore in the central Philippines on Nov. 8, displaced around four million people from their homes, and destroyed 500,000 houses, the United Nations estimates. Damages to infrastructure, hospitals, schools and public services were estimated at $12 billion.
 
“While around $3 billion has left the country to serve its debt since the typhoon struck, the country has received so far only $417 million for its strategic response plan by international and private donors, about half of the total relief requested,” Lumina said in a statement.
 
The Philippines, excluded as a lower middle-income country from international debt relief initiatives, is expected to pay $8.8 billion to service debt this year alone, the United Nations said.
 
“By definition, loans for reconstruction cannot generate returns to enable the debt to be paid,” Lumina said. “International lenders should rather consider canceling debt, to ensure that the country can recover.”
 
About a fifth of the Philippines' external debt as of end-2013 was owed to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, according to the United Nations.
 
The country's top bilateral lenders are Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, the agency said.
 
Odious Debts
 
There was no immediate comment from Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on the United Nations statement.
 
Manila has set aside funding of 54 billion pesos for the rebuilding effort. At least 80 billion pesos more would come from concessional loans offered by the World Bank, the ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
 
Once one of the world's most prolific global bond issuers, the Philippines has been relying less on foreign borrowing to plug its budget gap, and has been pursuing more debt buybacks and swaps and innovative deals such as local-denominated global bonds, prompting debt ratings agencies last year to lift the country to investment-grade status.
 
Lumina, however, said “the disaster should rather serve as an opportunity for lenders to acknowledge that odious debts emanating from the rule under Ferdinand Marcos should be canceled.”
 
Marcos, the late dictator who ruled the heavily indebted and impoverished Philippines for two decades, was toppled in an army-backed popular uprising in 1986.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8926
JPY
USD
123.71
GBP
USD
0.6358
CAD
USD
1.2364
INR
USD
63.600

Rates may not be current.