By Joann Villanueva
INCOMING ADMIN. UniTeam presidential-vice presidential tandem of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (left) and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte thank thousands of supporters during a rally at the Arca South Parking in Taguig City on April 24, 2022. International investment banker Stephen Cuunjieng said a government led by presumptive president Marcos Jr. would need to appoint officials who the various sectors trust. (PNA file photo)
MANILA – The announcement regarding the composition of the incoming government’s Cabinet along with the details on what policies it intends to pursue will play a big role in how the public will perceive the Marcos Jr. presidency.
International investment banker Stephen Cuunjieng, in a recent interview over ANC, said the quality of appointments to be made by Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is leading the unofficial vote count, will give “a very good signal” to the public on how the incoming government will handle its mandate.
“Who he entrusts the implementation of his views and policies [to] will make a big difference,” he said.
Citing the situation before the Duterte administration, Cuunjieng said people had somehow an idea on how the candidates then will implement its mandate except for the former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
He, however, pointed out that when it was announced that the Department of Finance (DOF) position had been assigned to Carlos G. Dominguez III, a businessman and the Agriculture Secretary during the term of the first Aquino Administration, “everybody calmed down” especially in the business sector.
He said Dominguez is “the ideal Finance Secretary” in any administration, thus, when the announcement came “the business community felt we just don’t have an adult in the room. We have a sage, a wise man.”
Aside from the quality of appointments, the investment banker also cited the need for the incoming government to have clear policies.
“Whatever it is, the things that will be most useful, and I don’t differentiate between what’s good internationally and what’s good domestically…I really want what’s good for the country. And that will take care of itself,” he said.
Noting that his explanations are “mean but very honest,” Cuunjieng said people need not worry that much regarding how the international community will perceive the Philippines under Marcos Jr.’s presidency because “nobody cares internationally.”
“We’re rounding errors. That’s the bad news and good news…. We’re not a great source of exports. We’re not a great source of imports but an exporter of people,” he said referring to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
He also said that although the Philippines comes after India in terms of the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, “that is not hard to replace…It’s not critical.”
In terms of the impact of the new administration on the country’s credit rating, he pointed out that a credit rating, in which the Philippines has continuously received upgrades in recent years, does not mean a country is poor or rich but is a gauge on how a country can service its debt.
To date, the Philippines holds investment grade ratings from major debt raters namely Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings, and S&P Global Ratings.
Cuunjieng said this achievement cannot be attributed to a single government but “a progressive move” since the first Aquino administration.
He also credited the improvement in the country’s credit ratings to the OFWs, whose remittances is among the growth drivers of the economy for decades now.
“So let’s give the real credit for our investment grade. It’s not a particular administration, it’s collective, every administration. But it’s really the sweat of our Filipinos who had much personal cost and hardship to work abroad. If they weren’t sending back 10 percent of our GDP (gross domestic product) let’s see what our investment grade would be regardless of which administration,” he said.
He said the incoming government needs to “do a good job and people will appreciate it because whatever conceptions the people who are very opinionated in the Philippines they’re a very small number of people who have those views.”
The important thing to focus on now, he said, is “what do we deliver for ourselves.”
“So, let’s stop worrying and being so obsessed about what others think of us. Let’s obsess with what we deliver for ourselves, for our people,” he said.
He said Marcos Jr. has “been given the rarest thing anybody is given” because of the number of votes he got during the May 9 polls.
“(Marcos Jr. has been given) a real chance to make a difference, not for you, not for your family’s name, that will be taken care of automatically, but for the people. You have a clear mandate. You have authority. You have a whopping majority in every branch of government. Now, please use it intelligently and judiciously for us,” he added. (PNA)