MANILA, AUGUST 3, 2009 (STAR) By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio - The plain housewife who led a repressed nation back into democracy in 1986 was likewise a driving force in turning the economy around, the country’s top business groups said yesterday.

They said upon assuming power, President Corazon Aquino not only had to deal with growing political instability but also a rapidly deteriorating economy. But her immense popularity and sincere resolve to overcome the obstacles rubbed off on investors’ sentiment – investments came back in droves, businesses grew, and the economy prospered soon after.

The Makati Business Club (MBC), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) said business confidence rose to positive levels when Mrs. Aquino became president in 1986.

“The businessmen were euphoric. The economy grew by unprecedented numbers,” MBC executive director Albert Lim told The STAR in a telephone interview.

“The economy was declining during the Marcos time. There was no confidence in the country. The interest rates had to be raised by as much as 40 percent,” he pointed out.

He said in 1984, the year after the death of Aquino’s husband Sen. Benigno Aquino, the Philippine economy had contracted by 7.4 percent. The economy likewise declined in 1985 by 7.3 percent.

However, when Mrs. Aquino took over, Lim said the economy turned around as gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 3.4 percent. Growth further accelerated to 4.3 percent in 1987 and peaked at 6.4 percent in 1988.

“From a low, our economy recovered and both foreign and local businessmen came back and started investing again in the country,” Lim noted.

The growth years, however, were cut short when military rebels led by then Col. Gregorio Honasan, now a senator, staged several coup attempts. “It was good except for the coup,” Lim said.

Nevertheless, Lim said the lasting effect of the Aquino presidency is the “legitimizing” of businesses. “During the Marcos time his cronies were taking over. When Mrs. Aquino came, the cronies left,” Lim said.

PCCI president Edgardo Lacson said Mrs. Aquino laid the groundwork for a better economy. He explained that during the time of Marcos, the banking system was not working.

“There was a downward spiral of commerce. Businessmen had to bring cash because the credit notes from the Philippines had little or no value then,” Lacson said.

“When she took over, everyone was euphoric. Investments came and all the basic industries recovered,” Lacson said. “Cronyism was tempered and businesses went back to its rightful owners.”

Lacson said when Mrs. Aquino started to solidify the democratic institutions, business confidence was restored and businessmen, especially the local ones, started investing again.

“She was a welcome change not only for politics but also for the business community,” Lacson said.

FPI president Jesus L. Arranza added that aside from restoring business confidence, Mrs. Aquino’s assumption into power made almost all countries keen on helping the Philipines.

“America was assisting us and almost all the other countries were willing to lend us money,” Arranza said.

Unfortunately, Arranza stressed these positive elements were tempered by the coup attempts.


Vanguards of democracy HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes Updated August 02, 2009 12:00 AM

President “Tita Cory” Aquino has gone to a better place. But her legacy lives on.

We in the media profession enjoy freedom from prior restraint because of her fight for democracy. We are able to criticize freely but responsibly because we no longer have fear in our hearts.

The country has truly become a democratic and republican state, thanks to Tita Cory.

She restored to us our freedom as a nation, our human rights, and our democratic institutions.

It is now up for us to make sure that her fight will never go to waste. That the light she has switched on will never be turned off again.

The EDSA people power that she led in 1986 ended the 20-year dictatorship of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos through non-violent means, something unprecedented in history. Our peaceful revolution inspired similar non-violent uprisings worldwide, including that which ended the communist rule in Eastern Europe.

For that brief moment in our nation’s history, the whole world watched in awe and admiration. We were proud as a people to be Filipinos. At that moment, we were united as a country against a common enemy. Our hero Ninoy Aquino sparked the flames. Tita Cory fanned the flames of revolution, and the whole nation fought with her.

But the fight isn’t over.

Unless we as a nation guard this sacred gift that was handed to us, our new found democracy may be gone before we know it.

At this point, let me point out what Justice Martin said, and what Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Nachura taught his law students, are the manifestations of republicanism. Probably, by knowing what they are, we can always have early warning signs if we are returning to a dictatorship.

Ours is a government of laws and not of men. We observe the rule of the majority and the separation of powers among the three co-equal branches of government. Public officials are always accountable to the people. The Bill of Rights aim to protect the people against abuses by government of the exercise of its inherent powers.

Among these manifestations, probably the most important is the accountability of public officials. A public office is a public trust. A public officer is invested with some sovereign power of government to be exercised by him always for the benefit of the public.

In choosing not only the next president of the Republic but even our barangay officials, let us choose someone who we can trust, not only with our money but also with the responsibility of ensuring that the public’s benefit, not his, always comes first.

From the readers

“Your column on House Rules re ‘professional stockholders group’ at Piltel, PLDT, ICTSI, GMA Network stockholders meetings reminded me of what publicly listed companies in Japan did when confronted with similar but more serious problems in the 1980s. What the companies did is to hold simultaneous stockholders meetings. The perennial hecklers (suspected to be from organized crime groups) we are forced to spread themselves among numerous companies. In so doing, the companies were able to isolate and contain them. The hecklers activities stopped as their identities were reported to the police,” - Manuel D. Cantos

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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