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Jose Claveria De Venecia Jr.
Manila Times and Ateneo Center for Social Policy and Public Affairs

toon_devenecia1.JPG (14055 bytes)

The lord of the pork: A most promising pol




On his life's defining moments:

When martial law was launched, we were abolished. I was a congressman
before martial law, for two and a half years. They closed down my office
with all the others. I remember having a drink of Coca-Cola with my
friends and we toast, until better times. So during that period I
refused to join the new parliament that was created. I was requested by
the political leaders in the North to join the national assembly, at that
time. I refused. So that all throughout the martial law years I did not
join the government. I created my own company and I went into business
but 45 percent of my company was taken from us, forcibly. Chris Monsod
was a member of the board of directors when they raided our company. And
because of that I decided to live in the Middle East and in North Africa
for 10 years. That's how I succeeded in pioneering in the Middle East
and North Africa which led to the employment of millions of Filipinos,
after which became the first pioneering prime contractor in the Middle
East and North Africa. And on the day that people power revolution
happened I was in Jakarta trying to see how we could do a joint venture
on fishponds farming in Indonesia. I was a fishermen at the age of eight
because our family had a fish farm and I wanted to export the technology
to Indonesia. The people power revolution happened. The following day, I
returned to the Philippines to resume my normal life in the Philippines.
Happily President Aquino appointed me ambassador at large but I served
the position only for four months because she called for a resumption of
elections and the re-opening of Congress. I returned to my old seat in
Congress. The miraculous Virgin Mary of Manaoag is located in my new
district and I'm very happy with that.

On foreign debt:

Well, in the case of the foreign debt issue, the most popular thing five
years ago was to repudiate the foreign debt... and whatever payment for
debt service for that debt we will distribute among the people. We
thought it would have been an extremely popular initiative in my capacity
as Speaker. When that issue was raised there were 160 Congress in favor
of repudiating the external debt. We were only about 20 who were in
favor of honoring our international debt and our external debt. I
pointed out that if we did not honor our external debt, we would go the
way of Peru, which declared martial law and closed down Congress and we
would go the way of Argentina, which repudiated its debt. So, it was a
very unpopular thing to do but I succeeded in finally getting, changing
the point of the House around and we finally won the battle... I was
prepared to resign as Speaker had we lost but I took a very unpopular act
in changing the decision of the House of Representatives and now, the
rest is history because then all World Bank, ADB (Asian Development
Bank), IMF (International Monetary Fund) the international business
community, foreign investments started flowing into the Philippines.

On poverty and the economy:

I don't believe that there is a need for conflict between the big
corporations and small corporations, I think we should harmonize the
existence of the big corporations and small corporations because we need
massive subcontracting of capabilities... Global corporations must be
allowed to enter the Philippines because we still have to build airports,
seaports. We still have to build highways. We still have to build massive
power plants, we still have to build oil refineries. One oil refinery is
30 to 50 billion pesos, one electric power plant is 30 to 40 billion
pesos, one highway system you need 500 million to 5 to 10 billion pesos.
The monorail system must need about 10 to 15 billion pesos, we need to
bring in the big corporations responsible for the big ticket items, we
need to help and finance the Filipino entrepreneurs, enter into joint
ventures and get into subcontracting arrangements with the big boys until
there will come a time in our lives when these small ones, the small
Filipino entrepreneurs, will become middle size and large scale operators
in the financial and economic markets. In our poverty programs we need
both. We need to mobilize the big companies, we need to mobilize as well
the small companies.

On the Lakas-NUCD party:

I will definitely run for president and I'm seeking the proclamation of
my political party. Democracy, whether it's Japanese politics, American
politics, or British politics, what I am seeking is the endorsement and
the proclamation of my political party, which is the ruling LAKAS-NUCD
UMDP, which is now the largest political clout in the Philippines. My
party puts together the Christians and Muslims under one political roof,
in a common political house, I believe that I will be supported by
President Ramos but the most important is the anointment by my party
because that is what we're running for actually as candidate of a
specific political party with our coalitions with the other smaller
parties in the Philippines.

We still have to mobilize financial support for our candidacy. We still
have to raise the funds for this purpose and I have had no experience
running for president before. So we will have to start from scratch. We
will have to rely on the support of contributors and friends because
right now you yourself know that it is really expensive to run a national
campaign, your radio time, your TV time, your rallies, plenty of buses,
trucks, helicopters, etc. the financing of the rallies in the provinces,
cities and towns. (These are) really a major national effort and I need
the support of hundreds of thousands of people.

I don't want to be hypocritical I need the support of President Ramos.
He's the chairman of the party I'm the secretary-general of the party and
we've worked very closely together. I think he and I have been credited
with creating the Philippine Economic Miracle. We have worked on the
peace process together. Our Congress is credited with having passed 150
laws that even President Clinton said was responsible for helping create
the Philippine Economic Miracle. I have no disagreements with Mr. Ramos
but obviously I will have to design my own programs (which are) needed
to enlarge and broaden the sweep and deepen the sweep of the Philippine
Economic Miracle under him. We need not only to enlarge but to innovate
further to make sure that we are able to effectively move into the 21st
century.

On peace and order and the administration of justice:

Under the amendments of the Bases Conversion Law, one million pesos will
finance the modernization of the PNP, the Department of Justice,
municipal, regional and national jails, the modernization of the NBI, the
establishment of the prosecutorial academy and judicial academy now in
Tagaytay, which is now being built to assist the criminal justice system.
It can be done. It's already implemented. They are now working out the
budgetary releases, so, it is not only P300,000 but one million pesos.

On globalization, tariff reforms:

There are pluses and minuses in the globalization effort, and if we are
not careful with our management of the system, local industries will
suffer. That is why we need a creative mix, on how to work out the
timing of the tariff adjustment so that we do not prejudice local
industries as we open up to globalization. But globalization is also
important because we have to bring in the corporations, the foreign
investments, and therefore, what we need there is harmonization, what we
need there is management and timing and harmonization.

On the Marcos billions:

There are many cases pending in Philippine courts, in US courts, in
European courts. I fully agree that the victims of injustice and
persecution should get first crack at their rightful share. But again you
need again a Solomonic judgment here. You must have to allocate amounts
also for the Philippine government, which is earmarking some of these
funds for the social reform agenda. That is what the PCGG is gunning for
but clearly the victims of martial law should get first crack namely,
those who had been prejudiced and who had won successful judgment in
courts of law, in international courts, that are obviously with regards
to the first $500 million. The Swiss government would only agree if there
was a final settlement.

On how he will raise money for his megaprojects:

Well, I am the father of the Build-Operate-Transfer Law with Congressman
Payumo. We brought in 500 billion pesos building new townships, airports,
seaports, highways, electric power system that solved the electric power
crisis in the Philippines, which was at no cost to the government. Under
the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, which I authored, which had now become
the model BOT Law in the world, and it's only the beginning because
billions more are entering the Philippines under the BOT Law.


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