Gary Teves fits his new job to a T
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva () - July 13, 2005 - 12:00am
It was a great satisfaction to know that Land Bank of the Philippines president Margarito "Gary" Teves was named yesterday as new Finance Secretary by President Arroyo.

Teves is an excellent choice. Being a three-term Congressman and a finance/economics expert makes him an ideal Finance Secretary, a technocrat with a heart for the common folks, especially the poor.

Teves is a rare combination of a technocrat and a politician who has honor, integrity, a man of his own words, and someone who enjoys the trust and confidence of Presidents of the Republic.

No pun intended but Teves fits his new job to a T.

He has worked closely with former Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, and Joseph Estrada, all of whom trusted him to help steer their respective economic visions for the country.

He is well respected by local and international banking and finance institutions, and yet feels the pulse of the common Filipino poor.

This is not to say resigned Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima was not a good man. But being a successful professional could hardly match the demands of the people from their public official like a Finance Secretary.

I distinctly recall how Teves, then as Congressman joined a party-less Ramos when the latter broke away from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) of the late House Speaker Ramon Mitra in their respective bids to get the party’s endorsement as the administration-backed candidate in the 1992 presidential elections.

When Ramos formed his original Lakas-Tao party with Senator-sister Leticia Shahani, Teves remained with him as one of their party’s senatorial candidates. Naturally, with such a small party to support a 12-man senatorial lineup, it was only re-electionist Shahani who survived the elections and Teves was unfortunately one of the casualties.

But you cannot put a good man down. The wise counsel of Teves on economic matters continued to be sought by leaders of the country which he did without much fanfare or publicity.

Teves is the kind of man we need in government, the kind who would hopefully help government regain the momentum of economic reforms to bring back the country to its growth path.

Albay Rep.J oey Salceda, who took the role of Teves in Congress as de facto economic adviser of Mrs. Arroyo, welcomed the appointment of the new Finance Secretary to the economic team of President Arroyo.

Salceda says it’s just "a bonus" that the father of the incoming Finance Secretary happens to be Negros Rep. Herminio Teves, who is set to assume on Jan.1, 2006 the chairmanship of the House ways and means committee under the term-sharing agreement with incumbent chair, Tarlac Rep. Jesli Lapus.

It was the young Teves during his stint in Congress who helped craft the original law on the expanded value added tax (EVAT).

So I don’t think there would be much difficult transition when Teves takes over from Purisima at the helm of the Finance Department, the chief implementor of the EVAT Law.

But the appointment of Teves alone, I’m afraid, would not be the cure-all to Philippine economic ills right now amid the poisoned political climate in the country.

Though he has ties with Ramos in the past, Teves has the independence of mind and could not be accused of being an FVR lackey. It was even Estrada who first appointed Teves as president of Land Bank.

It was the most unfortunate experience though for Teves when he was haled to jail at the Western Police District in Manila (WPD) sometime in 2003 due largely to the incompetence of some of our government lawyers.

The details of the case escapes me but what stuck in my memory was the galant manner by which Teves showed all and sundry that no one is above the law, not even a Land Bank president like him when he went to the WPD to answer the charges against him and several other bank officials.

Teves is the icon of a public servant who is ready to face the consequences of his official acts if any violation of the law is committed.

This brings me to talk about last week’s political drama in the country which struck me as something aptly described in a chorus of the popular song "Karma" made famous by Alicia Keys. The chorus goes this way.

What goes around, comes around.

What goes up, must come down.

It’s called Karma baby.

And it goes around.

But I’m not about to join the chorus by anti-GMA groups in singing "Karma" to President Arroyo. Others call it deja vu. Or in plain language, history repeats itself.

This is the common sense now among my former colleagues in the Palace beat when the same scenes of the EDSA-2 People Power Revolution in January 2001 against Estrada unfolded anew last week at the height of resign calls against President Arroyo.

Then Vice President and concurrent Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary (DSWD), Mrs. Arroyo announced her breakaway from the Estrada administration and joined the anti-Erap groups in EDSA.

Despite personal pleadings and favor asked of her by President Estrada to stand by his embattled administration, then Vice President Arroyo politely declined him and proceeded with her clandestine meetings with top military Generals who provided the tipping point.

But in fairness to her, Mrs. Arroyo did not bad-mouth Estrada in public in the same manner that her DSWD Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman did to her.

Can she, however, ask the same favor from her Vice President Noli De Castro which she didn’t give to Estrada during those days? Does she have the moral ascendancy to ask the same thing from her Vice President now?

Mrs. Arroyo is still fortunate though to have De Castro for her Veep who even supposedly alerted her about the conspiracy of his Cabinet colleagues who resigned and joined the ouster calls against her.

I think it was more of a newsman’s instinct on the part of Vice President De Castro that gave way and spelled disaster for Purisima and his fellow Cabinet officials when their ouster plot against Mrs. Arroyo was exposed in the open. Joke, joke ! ! !

Seriously though, President Arroyo is still protected by seeming Divine Intervention as heavy rains pour everytime there are protest rallies in Metro Manila. Well and good so that firetrucks need not use scarce water to disperse anti-GMA protesters and prevent new cases of massive human rights abuses.

But I beg to disagree with observations to credit what they call the "FVR factor" that saved the day for the embattled Arroyo administration.

This was after Ramos showed himself at the Palace, accompanied by Speaker Jose de Venecia and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who are all key Lakas-CMD party officials, at the Palace a few hours after Mrs. Aquino joined the calls for President Arroyo’s resignation.

FVR, for all intents and purposes, was the first one, next only to Mrs. Aquino, in telling President Arroyo to cut clean and cut cleanly when he practically suggested the cutting short of her term by giving way to Charter change during which she continues to serve in transition.

Whew! If only our ex-Presidents would stay retired and just attend to their grandchildren instead, I don’t think we would have these kinds of national problems.
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