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Guess who wants to be BSP Governor

Last week, the rumor went around the financial circles that former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wants to be BSP governor. Of course it took people by surprise. I ignored it for a while, but the rumor persisted.

Well, I think if she really wants it, she is more than qualified for it. She is an economist and her crisis management skills honed through almost a decade in Malacañang should be useful at the BSP. But why would she want the job after having been president already?

Maybe she wants her name and signature back on the local currency. I am being facetious, of course. Seriously, maybe she wants to show she is still capable of meeting new challenges in her senior years. Maybe she is getting sick of politics and wants to redeem her reputation.

Until this rumor started circulating, GMA is already the most powerful politician next to the President himself. For some reason, Mr. Duterte values her support and counsel such that she can nominate almost any one of her old favorites and they will be appointed by Mr. Duterte. The dinner of President Duterte with the business taipans was her idea and she orchestrated the invitations and the conduct of the event. 

The two police generals appointed to head two railway systems under DOTr are good examples. There are also GMA loyalists in the Duterte cabinet, the most important of them being the national security adviser. Many of her nominees are serving in government financial institutions.

Indeed, those betting who the next BSP governor will be are betting on Peter Favila, GMA’s former DTI secretary. It was largely conceded that Peter had the inside track because of GMA’s support. That’s why it is difficult to believe she now wants the position herself.

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One scuttlebutt I heard is that the race for the replacement of BSP Gov. Say Tetangco has tightened somewhat. The PDP-Laban, the party that carried Duterte’s successful presidential bid, is now pushing for one of their own. The Senate president himself made a public endorsement that should be difficult to ignore. Maybe GMA will claim the position only to hand it out to Favila later.

If we want to minimize risk in a new BSP governor, two deputy governors have the experience and the training to carry on the award winning performance of Say Tetangco. But those two are purely technocrats with no political links to Malacañang. So their chances of being appointed are nil.

I have been asking around and many people I respect seem resigned to seeing Peter Favila take the position. A member of the Monetary Board told me that in Peter’s favor is the time he spent at the Monetary Board. That means he has a good inside view of how BSP works and who are the people there he can depend on.

The time Peter spent as a commercial banker and as a Cabinet member will also contribute to the skill set he will need to be BSP governor. Of course being successor to the rock star central banker that Say Tetangco had been will be difficult. People will expect the new BSP governor to win all those awards Gov.  Say had won as an outstanding central bank governor year after year after year.

If the rumor that GMA is interested to be BSP governor herself is true, she probably figured out it is better than being speaker and eventually prime minister once the Constitution is revised to have a unicameral parliamentary government.

GMA is now deputy speaker with over a hundred congressmen loyal to her. It is obvious that she is making Speaker Alvarez very nervous. Indeed, the call of the speaker for her to step down if she is unable to support the return of the death penalty is a manifestation of the Speaker’s growing uneasiness.

If there is one issue we can expect GMA to defend, it is the abolition of the death penalty. This was one of her political achievements during her term. She didn’t seem bothered by the call of Alvarez to resign, but there was this underlying threat that if 
Alvarez pushes it strongly, she may just go for the speakership.

Maybe, sending out the rumor that she wants to be BSP governor is a way of making Alvarez relax a bit and not feel too threatened by her. Maybe, as I said, she is also tired of politics as usual and wants to make a name in a more technical position.

If she uses the well qualified BSP staff well, there is no reason why she cannot be a good BSP governor. The country is probably not done with her yet. Hopefully, she has learned her lessons too and will not allow some people close to her to ruin again her chance to shine.

A recycled GMA doesn’t sound too bad. It is a recycled you-know-who we should be worried about. Imagine you-know-who having influence over AMLC…

 Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is Follow him on Twitter @boochanco.

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