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Former BSP official says Robredo gov’t to attract investors


VICE-PRESIDENT Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo “will make every peso count” in her administration’s pandemic recovery program if she becomes president, according to a former Philippine central bank official.

Her anti-corruption drive and proven leadership during the global health crisis could also boost business confidence and attract investors, ex-Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said in a statement on Thursday.

Ms. Robredo’s office outperformed other agencies with higher budgets, making her a good model for the country’s market-driven economy, he added.

“She was able to maximize the Office of the Vice President’s allocation to fund an operation truly national in scope,” Mr. Guinigundo said.

“The next president must be able to judiciously utilize scarce resources. Robredo is the only one with executive experience to make every peso count.”

The Commission on Audit has given the Office of the Vice President the highest audit rating for three straight years.

Mr. Guinigundo said the country is entering an era “when a coronavirus-hit economy will not be able to contribute revenues that can substantially finance a national budget that addresses the needs of the people.”

“She will attract investors who will be lured that an economist is at the helm,” he said. “They will see her as both fair to labor, capital and consumers.”

Mr.  Guinigundo said Ms. Robredo is a “stark contrast” to her main rival, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos, Jr., who failed to file his income tax returns in the 1980s.

Critics have asked him and his family to settle the unpaid tax of their father’s estate that has ballooned to more than P200 billion due to interests and other penalties.

Nomura Global Research earlier said a government led by Ms. Robredo would be more “market-friendly.”

“Marcos Jr., in our view, will likely be regarded as less market-friendly than [Ms. Robredo], particularly when it comes to experience at the national level and in articulating a strategy for the country to recover from the pandemic,” it said in a report last year.

Ms. Robredo, who lawyered for the poor before becoming a congresswoman, has vowed to promote transparency and accountability in government and pursue pandemic recovery through health-based measures that respect human rights.

Her main rival, Mr. Marcos, who is leading in presidential opinion polls, has promised to continue a number of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s policies, including his infrastructure plan.

“A Marcos victory will likely be viewed negatively owing to perceptions against him, in part because his candidacy is facing some petitions for disqualification on grounds of making false statements and a previous conviction of failing to file income tax returns,” Nomura said.

A recent poll conducted by Bloomberg showed that Filipino investors were lukewarm to the prospects of a Marcos presidency, with Ms. Robredo emerging as their top pick to oversee an economic rebound.

The late President Benigno S.C. Aquino III, who started economic policies that led to investment-grade credit ratings for the Philippines and economic growth exceeding 6% from 2012 to 2014, endorsed Ms. Robredo’s vice presidential run in 2016.

The country’s economic output grew from an annual average of 4.5% before Mr. Aquino’s term to 6.2% during his six-year reign, according to economists. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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