VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ claim on decreasing gov’t debt misleads

March 17, 2023

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., in various social media posts, claimed that the national government’s borrowing decreased from P2.58 trillion in 2021 to P2.16 trillion in 2022, proving that his administration’s budget management policy is effective.

This is misleading.


Captions in Marcos’ social media posts wrote:

Mas mababa ng 16% ang ating inutang para sa 2022 kumpara sa taong 2021! Patunay ito na epektibo ang ating mga polisiya sa pangangasiwa ng ating budget at pagpapababa ng pagdepende natin sa utang para matugunan ang mga pangangailangan natin sa bansa.”

(We borrowed 16% less in 2022 compared to 2021! This proves the effectiveness of our administration’s policies in budget management and reducing our dependence on foreign loans to meet the country’s needs.)


Source: Bongbong Marcos official Facebook page, Mas mababa ng 16% ang ating inutang…, March 13, 2023


Marcos’ posts refer only to gross borrowings or new debt that the government has incurred. While he was correct in saying that these have decreased, the Freedom from Debt Coalition pointed out that the outstanding or total national government debt still increased because the government is borrowing more than it is paying back.

The government’s outstanding debt increased by 13.71% or P1.67 billion — from P12.1 trillion in 2021 to P13.8 trillion in 2022.

The Coalition also said gross borrowings are not an accurate indicator of an improving national debt burden since 40% of the government’s tax revenues in 2022 went to servicing the country’s debt.

The Bureau of Treasury pegged the country’s debt-to-gross domestic product ratio at 60.9%, higher than the international threshold of 60%. This places the Philippines at risk of a credit downgrade, which would make it harder and more costly for the country to borrow money. (Read VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Is the Philippine debt still ‘manageable’?)


Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form.



Bongbong Marcos official Facebook page, Mas mababa ng 16% ang ating inutang…, March 13, 2023

Bongbong Marcos official Twitter, Mas mababa ng 16% ang ating inutang…, March 13, 2023

Investopedia, Should You Look at Net Debt or Gross Debt?, accessed on March 16, 2023

Freedom from Debt Coalition, Personal communication (Email), March 15, 2023

Bureau of Treasury, National Government Debt Service, 2022

Bureau of Treasury, National Government Financing, 2022

Bureau of Treasury, National Government Cash Operation Report, 2022


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VERA Files

VERA Files is a nonstock, nonprofit, independent media organization. Founded in March 2008, it is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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