FORTY years ago, exactly on September 28, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, aware that the agriculture-based economy could not compete with the emerging markets in Asia, ordered the implementation of the country’s 11 heavy industrialization projects and announced this before the University of the Philippines Law Alumni Association.
At that time, the country was already on the way to Nic-hood (newly industrialized country) status.
The projects were integrated steel, petrochemical complex, heavy engineering industries, the expansion of the cement industry, the industrialization of the coconut industry, an integrated pulp and paper mill, copper smelter, aluminum smelter, phosphate fertilizer, the manufacture of diesel engines, and Alcogas.
In reaction, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank and their allies that included the President’s technocrats, led by then- Prime Minister Cesar Virata; the Makati Business Club, led by the late Jaime Ongpin and the Zobel-Ayala group; the Center for Research and Communication, an institution associated with Opus Dei, whose spokesman was Dr. Bernardo Villegas; and even the National Economic Protectionism Association immediately went to work, relentlessly blocking and delaying the projects at every turn.
They even came up with a sardonic slogan to dramatize their opposition to President Marcos: “You can’t eat steel!”
For three years, the Marcos regime fought them but only two of the projects went through, the Iligan Steel Mill and the copper smelter. The President was visibly irritated over the negative reactions of the IMF-World Bank and the Makati business group, prompting him to issue a strong public statement accusing them of sabotaging the country’s industrialization plan.
A year later, Ninoy Aquino, who ignored the government’s request to suspend his return to the country, was assassinated on his arrival at the airport. The incident triggered a political and economic crisis in the country, exacerbated by a spate of oil price increases, inflation, capital flight and the deliberate tightening control of credits by the IMF-World Bank and other foreign creditors.
As a result, the plan for massive industrialization evaporated into thin air.
Consequently, the economy after President Marcos turned from bad to worse despite his successors’ accumulated budgets of more than P9 trillion. This huge budget was supposed to spur economic growth.
But look what happened.
Records showed that none of them, or all of them combined, could even match President Marcos’s economic infrastructures of roads, bridges, hospitals and schools; a tri-modal system of transportation of air, land and sea; communication facilities; energy infrastructure and the laws required to safeguard the economy and make it progressive.
Marcos crafted and formulated, with the help of experts, 7,883 Presidential Decrees (PD) and other legal issuances from September 21, 1972, to February 26, 1986, a span of 14 years.
Justice Manuel Lazaro said these laws set the rules, regulations and penalties for almost every facet of lawful and ethical human conduct—from birth to grave.
They are categorized as follows: Presidential Decrees (1 to 2036); Letters of Instruction (1 to 1525); Letters of Implementation (1 to 157); General Orders (1 to 61); Executive Orders (366 to 1093); Administrative Orders (349 to 504); Proclamations (1081 to 2486); and Memo Circulars (599 to 1297).
“These are laws and policies that impacted as well on the economic, social, political and national security life of the nation; they are designed not only for the past, but also for the present, as well as the future; and they are exclusive of the hundreds of laws that he authored and sponsored as congressman and senator for almost two decades,” Lazaro said.
Out of the 7,883 Presidential issuances, only 67 PDs or less than .01 percent have either been repealed or modified. The minimal percentage of 67 PDs either repealed or modified by Executive Order 187 issued by then-President Corazon C. Aquino were the decrees increasing the penalties for certain offenses against public order and security, e.g., PDs 38, 1735, 1834, 1974 and 1996.
the rationale and purpose of the PDs repealed or modified were resurrected in
enacting Article 134-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act
(RA) 6968 (law on coup d’état). Notably, 7,816 issuances are still effective
and enforced up to the present. These laws still apply and govern the nation
today, said Lazaro.
These laws are eloquent proof of the wisdom, vision, dedication and foresight that Marcos possessed in formulating them as instruments of good and effective governance.
According to Justice Lazaro, no president in the country’s legal history had codified more laws as he did that are still effective and are being enforced today. Worth mentioning are the 15 codified laws, with social and economic relevance. These are the Local Tax Code (PD 231); Labor Code of the Philippines (PD 442); Real Property Tax Code (PD 464); Child and Youth Welfare Code (PD 603); Insurance Code (PD 612);
Revised Forestry Code (PD 705); Code of Sanitation (PD 856); Coconut Industry Code (PD 961); Water Code (PD 1067); Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (PD 1083); National Building Code (PD 1096); Philippines Environment Code (PD 1152); Fire Code (PD 1185); Government Auditing Code (PD 1445); Tariff and Customs Code (PD 1464); and Code of Agrarian Reform (PD 444).
“More important,” Lazaro said, “there is the Judicial Development Fund, the wellspring of the financial benefits of the members of the judiciary. There is also the Pagcor, a consistent source of revenues for the country.”
“Marcos’s achievements and contributions are a matter of record. The laws he issued are embedded in the country’s legal system and they continue to guide and safeguard the nation and its people.”
Compared to the Marcos years, the economic situation now is retrogressing, instead of progressing. The country is in the worst cycle of deficit spending and borrowing. There’s nothing wrong to borrow money as long as you use it to build more assets for the country, like what Marcos did. But if you squander it, pocket it and enrich yourself, the people will suffer.
Remember the whistle-blower who said, “Moderate your greed.” He said that because the economy has become transactional and extortionate, making the Philippines one of the most corrupt in the world.
After exiling the Marcoses to the US, Aquino abolished the Ministry of Human Settlements and the Ministry of Energy. These were the agencies that served as linchpins for the government’s overall social and economic development with huge and growing assets and professional staff. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos headed the former and Geronimo “Ronnie” Velasco the latter.
Modesty aside, they were the best-run ministries organized by Marcos with specific tasks to socially ameliorate the country’s mass of homeless and hungry people, and to provide the required energy infrastructure for industrialization.
To reach the writer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.