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In retrospect, the presidency of Diosdado Macapagal gave me some memories of which I felt the beginnings of my conscious political awareness; I was 15 and a college freshman then.
To cite a few experiential events, during Pres. Macapagal's term, which I never forgot:
- My passbook savings account lost roughly 50% of its purchasing power from peso devaluation, i.e. from P2 to P3.90 exchange to $1.00;
- it was a period when there was buying out and hoarding of our coin currencies (5-10-25 centavos),
- my first experience of having to walk from Legarda to Mandaluyong due to a strike by jeepney drivers for rates increase; and
- we were marched, one Sunday at ROTC, from the Luneta to the Rizal Coliseum to rally about our Philippine claim on “Sabah (North Borneo).”
As we come to learn a bit of economics later, we understand the havoc a currency devaluation brings us; as our Philippine peso has devalued several times, though now euphemistically under a “floating currency exchange rate.” At the time and by his first month in office as president, Macapagal removed currency exchange control as promised to official U.S. and local American businessmen-backers. The hoarding of our coins was also a byproduct of the this deregulation and/or due metal prices, melting the coins for their nickel and silver contents.
As earlier mentioned, in his first few weeks at Malacanang, President Macapagal proclaimed his faith in free enterprise, unregulated currency exchange and foreign investments. He then rescinded both exchange controls and First Filipino Policy of Pres. Garcia. He essentially ignored the facts that during the short-lived nationalist, preferential and protective economic policy of Garcia, native Filipino entrepreneurs were encouraged to invest in new fields/industries, i.e. chemical manufacturing, metal fabrication, electronics, etc. Looking back to the early 1970s, I realize that I personally benefited from the Filipino First Policy. I was an engineer in a technologically progressive, 100% Filipino-owned chemical manufacturing company that was established during President Garcia's administration.
I.P. Soliongco wrote a series of articles about our post-WW2 presidents from the years 1946 to 1971, the year of his death. His articles though dated are so alive and resonate in the thinking Filipino mind, given that his critical analysis and observations are so relevant, 60+ years ago today.
In the following article, Soliongco wrote about what he saw as the hypocritical character of Macapagal and his subservience to U.S. foreign policy and American (and Chinese) economic interests in the homeland.
Macapagal's daughter Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became 14th President (2001 to 2010). She proclaimed then she will rule like her dad; she did and with much worse and wider long-term disaster for the native Filipino majority and their future generations. I will cover later.
Click below to read my previous blog posts on our post-WW2 presidents:
President Manuel Roxas A. Roxas (1946-1948)
President Elpidio R.Quirino (1948-1953)
Presidents Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay (1953-1957) & President Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961)
President Diosdado P. Macapagal (1961-1965)
President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-1986) - LATER
He would give a firm guarantee allowing “the absolute repatriation both of profits and capital.” This should prove attractive to the foreigners, if only for the reason that Mr. Macapagal is probably the first politician of an underdeveloped country to make a pledge of such vast and disastrous implications.
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