Ever since I could remember, my parents have always told me that President Ferdinand Marcos (FM) caused the downfall of the Filipino economy. I have always believed them. However, lately, my children have been getting conflicting reports on just who is to blame for this fall. This is why I decided to do a little research on this.
So, did FM actually turn us into the “Sick Man of Asia”? I decided to take a look at three prominent analytic indicators… the Philippine peso - US dollar exchange rate, the gross domestic product (GDP) and the country's debt to GDP ratio. I particularly focused on the period from where President Marcos began his administration to President Benigno Aquino III's (P-Noy's) term (As of this writing, P-Noy is only in his 3rd year in office).
Here's what I found:
This chart seems to indicate that my parents were right.
If you view the chart, you'll notice that between 1970 and 1972, long before Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law; the Philippine peso plummeted by a staggering 40% (and a total of more than 80% before he was ousted in 1986). Also, during his term in office we hit our highest Debt-GDP Ratio of more than 90% (which is extremely bad). Though our GDP did improve during his term, it was too little an improvement to cover for our massive debts and a falling peso.
So, did President Marcos cause our downfall? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
However, this chart did make me realize a few things. Mind you, the following is only my opinion...
I think I owe President Gloria Macapagal-Aroyo (PGMA) an apology. I openly accused her of bringing our economy down; but, after looking at the World Bank data, I may have been wrong.
During PGMA's term, our GDP rose to around 170 Billion USD from a mere 71 Billion USD when she took over. She also managed to bring down our Debt-GDP Ratio to 44% from a high 63% when she first held office. She even managed to improve our exchange rate a little bit. It might be a stretch, but I believe that the economic windfall we are enjoying today may have started during PGMA's time. P-Noy may be riding a wave created by PGMA.
Yes, we’ve had a windfall since PGMA's time in office; yet, somehow, it just doesn’t seem to be enough. P-Noy can’t afford to rest on his laurels right now. He’s got a great big mountain to climb. I, for one, would like him to reach the zenith. Because, if he does, we all benefit.