The FCAID network is a joint project by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and its faith-based members and partners (KKK, AMRSP, JPICC-AMRSP and ISACC). Although it has its own processes and decision-making powers, FCAID works very closely with FDC.
The FCAID is a very loose network of organizations and individuals who are interested, passionate and dedicated to the debt advocacy. There is no need for a formal membership. To become a part of the network, the organization or individual will have to simply be a participant in any of the network’s initiatives (training, lobbying, creative or mass actions). In return, the partner will regularly receive updates and be invited to FCAID’s activities.
The network will also be on the look-out for those interested, have the skills and resources to help in the advocacy, an advance campaign training on the debt issue will be designed to prepare them as debt advocates/volunteers.
Immorality of Debt
Originally, incurring debt or even debt service is not considered innately bad or even forbidden. In fact, debt can be used by a country’s government as a tool for development when used appropriately. However, debt becomes immoral when it results to: 1) greed; 2) conflict, war and division; 4) slavery/burden; 5) abuse and fraud; and, 6) the use of unequal power relations.
The Faith-based Perspectives on the Debt
The Christian Perspective
1.“Wealth exists to be shared.” Ideally, there shall be no debts and no one asking money/resources from others or even lending money/resources to others because wealth is made by God for all people to share and benefit from.
2.Purpose and the Proper Use of Debts. In reality, incurring debts are inevitable. However to base it on moral standards, debts should only be used as a development tool. As assistance for those who will:
-Use debts in productive endeavors (e.g. business, something that will earn one a living) and therefore can be charged a minimal “interest” fee.
-Use debts for basic social purposes such as hospital bills, medicine expenses, education funds (tuition fees), food, agricultural expenses for small farmers and calamity funds, etc. for which interest cannot be charged from the borrower because the reasons for incurring it is survival.
However, these points raise the question: Does interest (rate) really help the borrower or is it mainly to generate profit for the lender?
The nature of assistance should be within the context of “genuine” help for people who are in need and it is only during times when money is used for progress or expanding of business can it be charged interest. But even that, the requirement should only be “minimal profit/interest” not USURIOUS interest. “Charging usurious interest rates is immoral!”
3.Third Party Debts or Institutional Debts. It is a fact that the National Government is mandated by law to represent the Philippines in agreements, negotiations and other official business transaction it enters into including those of loans. In simpler terms, the Government lends/pays money on behalf and using the name and money of the Filipino people. This fact may ONLY be acceptable, if in reality, projects to be financed by these loans genuinely improved peoples’ lives and welfare and if funds from the loans are to be used responsibly and without abuse of the Philippine laws and processes.
However through the course of time and experience, people have become silent witnesses to controversies and scandals, which involved large sums of money used for bribery and corruption and to finance projects that harmed the people and damaged the environment. Many of the projects advanced by the government were one-sided agreements in favor of a few (the elite or the country/bank where the loans were contracted). Most projects, if not all, were not well-thought out, unviable with no feasibility studies and other evaluative studies ever conducted by either or both of the contracting parties. Lastly, the people and communities were neither participant to the project process nor consulted.
To challenge those in doubt, name at least one loan agreement that is free from all irregularities.
4.Debt as Social/Structural Sin. The debt cycle has become a merciless entrapment to Juan de la Cruz. It burdens and buries him deeper into poverty.
Social/structural sin is the accumulation and concentration of many personal sins. Examples of which that are known to society are apartheid, racism, patriarchy, slavery, and others.
Debt, like the other recognized structural sins (i.e. patriarchy, racism, apartheid, slavery) is equal if not exceeds the gravity of these sins and these build a system that can trap a nation.
Injustices that were caused by debts entered into by the government recur and the level of gravity increases every time it is committed, thus, the debt trap. If the government does not do anything to free itself from the trap, then this becomes a vicious cycle.
5.Debt as a tool of the powerful. Fact is, “unequal power relations” do exist (the North and South Concept). The concept is based on a perspective which explains how north countries have exploited the natural resources of south countries to make them richer and powerful and how south countries have become sweatshops of north countries. The flight of resources from the south to the north countries has made the former, vulnerable and dependent. Depleted of their own resources, the south countries have no more means to spur their own development. These unequal power relations have created a very unfair position for the south countries.
It should be understood from these unjust practices that the debts claimed by the north countries from the south countries have already been paid for many times over, thus, maintaining the position that south countries do not owe anything to the north countries. In fact, the north countries should unilaterally cancel all the debts of the south countries and should even repay the south the amount equivalent to the natural and human resources that they have exploited and even more as reparations for the damage they have caused over hundreds of years. Thus calls such as, “Don’t owe, won’t pay!” and ”We don’t owe you but you owe us!
The Islamic Perspective
Papers/Materials discussing Islam and Debt are available for download. However, FCAID will be developing this perspective with Islamic groups/institute soon.
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