Dynamics in International Campaigns and National Implementation

Campaigns for debt relief
Joel F. Ariate Jr.

Though interrelated, local and transnational civil society actors that engage in debt relief in the Philippines have different locus of engagement: local initiatives take a critical stance towards state policies on debt and external initiatives target in their campaigns the lending countries where they are situated and that has a voice in the decisions being taken by multilateral financial institutions. In 1987, amidst the debate on what to do with the national debt accumulated during Ferdinand Marcos’s kleptocratic administration, a handful of concerned individuals and organizations formed the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC).

At first, it campaigned for the following objectives: (1) to implement a moratorium on foreign debt service payments until acceptable terms based on the country's capacity to pay are won in a new agreement, (2) to disengage from loans that did not benefit the people particularly those tainted with fraud, and (3) to limit foreign debt service payments to no more than 10 per cent of export earnings to enable the country to finance its economic recovery. As succeeding administrations borrowed more and ill-conceived fiscal policies piled up more debt for the public to bear, FDC did not lose its relevance. At present, FDC is a nationwide coalition made up of 79 organizations ranging from nongovernmental organizations and people’s organization’s, academic research centers, and faith-based organizations conducting advocacy work on the national, local and international arena with active advocacy efforts on fiscal, monetary, debt issues and multilateral financial institutions.

(Photo credit: Freedom from Debt Coalition,

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