“I am very positive today about the Philippine economy,” said Dr. Bernardo Villegas in a symposium on the next 50 years of Philippine economy and governance at University of Asia and the Pacific.
Villegas and Dr. Jesus Estanislao, who established the Center for Research and Communication in 1967 which later became UAP, teamed up once again to share their combined expertise during the special symposium as a part of the activities leading up to the university’s 50th anniversary.
Villegas tackled the state of the economy while Estanislao talked about the importance of good governance. The symposium provided invaluable insights into the challenges facing the country’s future and Filipinos’ role in building a better Philippines in the years ahead.
Villegas said the Duterte administration’s infrastructure program will start the groundwork for the next 50 years.
He said the country’s aspiration to become an upper-middle income country by 2022 can be attained, on the back of an annual GDP per capita growth of 4 percent to 5 percent.
Villegas said to achieve the target, there is a need to amend the 1987 Constitution “so that we can attract a lot more FDIs [foreign direct investments].”
“We have too many restrictions against foreign equity,” said Villegas, who once sat as a member of the Constitutional Commission that crafted the charter.
Villegas credited all the Philippine presidents for contributing to the growth of the economy, starting with the deployment of Filipino workers to the Middle East in the 1970s to take advantage of the growing oil industry and the development of the geothermal industry.
“Democracy is the most important contribution of President Cory Aquino. She restored many economical institutions that were systematically destroyed during dictatorship,” Villegas said.
He said the administration of President Fidel Ramos was remarkable for opening various industries and market-driven economic growth. The brief Estrada administration was credited for boosting agriculture through irrigation, while the Arroyo administration created the Philippine Nautical Highway which gave way to the growth of the tourism industry.
Villegas commended the administration of President Benigno Aquino for addressing corruption and implementing governance measures.
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