After clash, Dominguez offers Economics 101 for Imee Marcos
MANILA, Philippines – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III offered to provide a special briefing on the economy for Senator Imee Marcos after they clashed on several issues in a virtual hearing last week.
In a letter to Marcos dated Tuesday, May 26, Dominguez said the briefing can be conducted by a senior official of the Cabinet's Economic Development Cluster (EDC).
"As chair of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) of the Duterte administration, I acknowledge the questions and concerns you raised regarding the Philippine economy during the Senate committee of the whole hearing on the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic last May 20, 2020," Dominguez said.
During the Senate hearing last week, Marcos asked Dominguez about the government's COVID-19 stimulus program, as well as economic indicators.
Marcos was not satisfied with the government's efforts to help farmers, adding that a mere P5,000 in cash aid to buy seeds would not suffice.
She went on to suggest the revival of Masagana 99, the failed rice program of her father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Masagana 99 was discontinued because the government took in massive foreign loans to finance the program. When farmers were unable to pay up, it placed great stress on rural banks, and in turn, affected the country's overall fiscal health.
The program was also laced with political patronage, where funds were used to influence farmers. (READ: The tragedy of Martial Law)
Marcos admitted there may have been issues with the financing, but insisted that rice production under the program was successful.
"Shame on you, Secretary Dominguez, give the Filipino farmers some credit! When supported by sound government policy and defended against rampant importation, we can feed ourselves. Give the Filipino farmer a chance!" Marcos said in a statement after the hearing.
Marcos also cited University of the Philippines agronomist Emil Javier's study that the Philippines did export rice to neighboring countries when farmers under Masagana 99 produced a surplus of some 89,000 metric tons from 1977 to 1978.
But Dominguez refuted Marcos' claims, saying that the Philippines never exported rice during the dictator's program.
"Rest assured that the EDC is studying the points you raised during the committee hearing," Dominguez said in his letter.
The hearing was the second time that Marcos and Dominguez clashed. Last April, Dominguez rejected Marcos' proposal to defer debt obligations, even calling the recommendation "narrow-sighted."
"Debt moratorium has not crossed our mind. It was never entertained or will ever be a part of our crisis response measures," Dominguez said in a strongly-worded statement on April 14.
The Marcos clan stole billions of pesos and left the Philippines in debt, several court and historical records show. Taxpayers are still paying for the debts incurred. – Rappler.com