Jubilee USA Calls for Moratorium of Debt Payments and Public Audits of Loans in Wake of Typhoon Haiyan
WASHINGTON – November 30 – Two weeks after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, the world has responded with astounding generosity, donating tens of millions of dollars to aid in the recovery effort–$37 million from the United States government alone. Unfortunately, since the typhoon struck on November 8th, the Philippines has spent more than $310 million paying off overseas debts, and it will spend a total of $6.7 billion this year alone. Some of those debts are from the corrupt and abusive regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Lenders are still collecting repayments on these loans, taking away resources that could be used to rebuild after the typhoon, and to further protect the Philippines from the repercussions of climate change.
“This is an opportunity for lenders to acknowledge that debts from the Marcos regime must be cancelled,” noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, a debt monitoring organization. “In the wake of such devastation, we need a moral accounting of the loans the Philippines are repaying. We must have a public audit.”
The destruction of Typhoon Haiyan was devastating, resulting in the deaths of more than 4,000 people, the displacement of more than 4.4 million, the loss of livelihoods for 5 million workers and total economic losses of up to $15 billion.
The devastating impacts of the world’s largest-ever recorded storm illustrate why lenders like the World Bank should review the $60 billion debt burden held by the Philippines. Some of these debts were inherited from the rule of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and 80s–a period of repression and martial law. Loans poured in from these same international lenders, who turned a blind eye to the regime’s abuses, crimes and corruption.
“What people are living through on the ground is horrific. I can’t believe that so much money is going to lenders who supported a corrupt regime while there is so much suffering,” commented LeCompte.