Five Ds anchor Ramos’ economic legacy – ex-NEDA chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 1) – The economic legacy of the administration of the late President Fidel V. Ramos was summed up by his former socioeconomic planning secretary in five Ds, which he said shaped the country’s economy as a rising tiger of Asia during their tenure.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Final Word a day after Ramos died, former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) chief Cielito Habito paid tribute to his former boss who promoted unifying leadership among his Cabinet.

“He actually preached the gospel of unity, solidarity, and teamwork. He made sure that his Cabinet worked together in a very coordinated way. Nobody was going to be disagreeing with one another publicly. All debates had to be done behind closed doors,” Habito said.

“But you know, the Cabinet and the whole government actually gave an air of unity and teamwork. And that was very important for business confidence, and for more jobs to be created in our economy,” he added.

Habito emphasized that Ramos centered his economic strategies on democratization, decentralization, devolution, deregulation and development that is sustainable.

In promoting democratization, Habito said Ramos made sure that small and large businesses would have equal role in revitalizing the economy.

The former NEDA director-general also highlighted that Ramos, who served as president from 1992 to 1998, wanted to decentralize development so that not all of the country’s main economic activities are concentrated in Metro Manila.

“He had a very conscious effort specially to bring resources to Mindanao, develop the infrastructure there so that we can have much more contribution to the national economy coming in there,” Habito said.

It was also during Ramos’ time when the Local Government Code of 1991 was fully enforced, which promoted devolution of basic social services and facilities from the national government to local government units.

“He (Ramos) asserted that through his term, empowering all our local government officials,” said Habito.

Deregulation, particularly of the oil industry, was also one of the lasting economic legacies left by the Ramos administration, as Habito labeled the practice as a huge driver in opening up the national economy to more investments.

Habito described Ramos as the country's “best” salesman in encouraging new investments, especially in manufacturing and services-related businesses.

“This was opening up our economy, removing all the regulations and strictures that inhibited business. And that's the reason why he unleashed a whole lot of new investments both by domestic investors and foreign investors alike. And so, there was a really renewed interest in the Philippine economy during the 1990s,” he said.

Ramos was also ahead of his time as he prioritized sustainable development in communities as a force to pump up the country’s economy.

“In fact, we were the first in the world to form this multi-stakeholder national council for sustainable development, which was actually the agreement in the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. So when he came into office, that Rio Earth Summit that just finished, and he was among the very first in the world to actually implement one of the important recommendations of making everybody part of sustainable development planning in the country,” Habito looked back.

Habito said the five economic strategies of Ramos created a “dynamic” national economy that defined his exemplary leadership.

“He truly led by example, and inspire all of us to give our best to our country,” Habito said.