A Statement by Concerned Citizens from the Economics and Allied Professions

Incredibly, as though we have not learned or suffered enough from our recent history, we once again find ourselves in the howling midst of a political tempest. The precipitating factors: allegedly wiretapped phone conversations of Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, some of them apparently with the President, that indicate systematic rigging of the 2004 elections, and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s apology for a lapse in judgment in calling an unnamed COMELEC official during the election period. The consequences have been that the President has tarnished her trustworthiness and credibility, and compromised her moral authority to govern.

Particularly because of the circumstances that led to her assumption into office in 2001, the President should have realized that she was expected to hearken to a higher standard of governance. That she did not, by her own admission, has irretrievably damaged her presidency. Now, her continuing to stay in office will only drag down the nation into an economic quagmire of fiscal insolvency, poor consumer and investor confidence, accelerating inflation, and high unemployment and poverty.

The recent Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court on the implementation of the expanded value-added tax has shown that unconvinced stakeholders can easily thwart economic measures, especially in the context of an administration whose credibility and legitimacy are severely questioned.

The resignation of key economic managers, namely Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, Trade and Industry Secretary Juan Santos, and Bureau of Internal Revenue head Guillermo Parayno, deals a serious blow to the Arroyo administration’s capacity to preside over the resolution of the fiscal crisis.

We need a strong and credible leader who will be able to unify our fragmented country, institute fundamental reforms in our institutions, inspire our workers and professionals to stay and be productive and more importantly, create a sense of stability anchored on a broad base of support from the citizenry. Only a leader occupying the moral high ground can convince the citizens to accept hard, painful economic reforms to arrest the fiscal crisis. It will be ironic and sad for the President, a full fledged economist to fail to realize this.  The status quo will prolong the uncertainty and instability we are experiencing today.

For the sake of the nation and the greater good, we therefore implore President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to render the ultimate sacrifice and tender her voluntary resignation, so that a period of healing and renewal can begin. Let it be your legacy, Madam President, that in the end you chose to save the nation rather than your presidency.

We uphold the Constitution, which designates the Vice-President as the successor, in the event that GMA relinquishes power.

Moreover, we emphasize that a change of leadership must go hand in hand with a thorough, deep restructuring and reform of institutions.

The EDSA 2 upheaval, which resulted in the removal of Joseph Estrada and the accession of Mrs. Arroyo,provides an unmistakable lesson: that a change of personalities would not suffice to institutionalize fundamental reforms.  This means that civil society cannot leave to government the task of rebuilding damaged institutions.  We have to remain vigilant towards championing, asserting and consolidating the key institutional and policy reforms that redound to the public interest.

Should all this come to pass, we call on the successor government, which must be established following Constitutionally-consistent avenues, to undertake the following urgent initiatives:

  • Restore the people’s trust in government institutions, particularly the Commission on Elections.
  • Reform the electoral processes and make them less vulnerable to fraud.
  • Improve the fiscal situation through more efficient tax collection, passage of new taxes that conform to the criteria of fairness and simplicity, more equitable distribution of the tax burden, and comprehensive reforms in the responsibilities and accountabilities of the boards and officers of government-owned and controlled corporations, including the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System.
  • Reduce the number and alleviate the condition of poor people.

Initial List of Signatories:

  1. Michael Alba, Dean, College of Business and Economics, De La Salle University
  2. Fernando Aldaba, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  3. Rafaelita M. Aldaba, School of Economics, University of the Philippines
  4. Carlito T. Anonuevo, Economics Department, Universityof the Philippines, Los Baños; President, Action for Economic Reforms
  5. Myrna Austria, Director of Research, College of Business and Economics, De La Salle University
  6. Germelino Bautista, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  7. Rene Canlas, Vice Chair, Accountancy Department, De La Salle University
  8. Jessica Reyes Cantos, Vice President, Action for Economic Reforms
  9. Christopher Cruz, Chair, Commercial Law Department, De La Salle University
  10. Leland de la Cruz, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  11. Agham Cuevas, Chair,  Economics Department, University of the Philippines Los Baños
  12. Luis Dumlao, Officer in Charge, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  13. Maricar Paz Garde, Economics Department, De La Salle University
  14. Margarita Gomez, Department of Social Science, University of the Philippines, Manila; Fellow, Action for Economic Reforms
  15. Cielito Habito, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  16. Rene Hapitan, Financial Management Department, De La Salle University
  17. Ronnie Holmes, Executive Vice President, De la Salle-Zobel
  18. Leonardo Lanzona, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  19. Nepomuceno Malaluan, Corporate Secretary, Action for Economic Reforms
  20. Ellen Palanca, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  21. Junette Perez, Chair, Financial Management Department, De La Salle University
  22. Lisa Pilapil, Center for Economic Research and Development, Ateneo de Manila University
  23. U-Primo Rodriguez, Economics Department, University of the Philippines, Los Baños
  24. Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III, Coordinator, Action for Economic Reforms
  25. Rosalina Tan, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  26. Ofelia Templo, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  27. Benjamin Tolosa, Chair, Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University
  28. Phillip Tuano, Economics Department, Ateneo de Manila University
  29. Edna Co, National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines
  30. Francisco Magno, Director, Institute of Governance, De La Salle University
  31. Prospero J. de Vera III, National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines
  32. Hazel Malapit, Trustee, Action for Economic Reforms
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