FVR Good Governance Model

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“FVR reminds us that we can be a great country and not the bickering, conflicted and disunited nation that Marcos, Erap, GMA, PNoy and Digong gave us.”

On July 31, Fidel V. Ramos (FVR), the country’s 12th president from 1992 to 1998, died of complications from COVID. He was 94 years old.

Interestingly, FVR died the day before the country commemorated the anniversary of the death of Cory Aquino, the president he succeeded, who died on August 1, 2009.

Both Cory and FVR were good presidents of the Philippines, but for different reasons.

Cory led the restoration of democracy in the Philippines; Ramos defended this democracy as a soldier and, as president, showed its nation-building potential.

Contrary to what the film Maid in Malacanang depicts, Marcos Sr was ousted, driven out by the Filipino people.

I know for a fact that I was there in the palace gates that night the Marcos left to celebrate our liberation from dictatorship. FVR was instrumental in this event.

FVR is my hero and, as far as I am concerned, one of the best presidents the country has ever had. In fact, I would only count Manuel Quezon as arguably better than FVR.

I am of course biased in saying this because, at 35 when I was appointed, I was one of the youngest Under Secretaries to the Cabinet during the administration of the FVR.

I was appointed to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in January 1996, thanks to the then DENR Secretary, Victor O. Ramos, who recommended me for the position.

In fact, I didn’t know the two Ramoses personally, although VOR was aware of my reputation as an environmental activist and climate expert.

VOR would later tell me that FVR immediately approved my nomination, commenting after seeing my resume, “Where did you find this guy?”

During his tenure as President, FVR navigated the country through calm waters as it was rocked by one debilitating crisis after another.

There was the power shortage, the crippling Asian financial crisis of 1997 that devastated many Asian countries, and the Flor Contemplacion debacle.

He initiated economic reforms that opened the economy to foreign investment, literally freed the skies and airwaves from monopolies, made peace with the Moro National Liberation Front, and advanced negotiations with the National Democratic Front.

I was assigned to attend both negotiations and I can attest to the seriousness with which FVR approached the issue of peace in our country.

One of his best political actions was the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Act. He would have been appalled by the red marking.

As an impressionable young DENR civil servant, it was truly gratifying to see that FVR was genuinely committed to sustainable development.

FVR bragged about us when the DENR banned the construction of what would have been the world’s largest cement plant in Bolinao, a town in FVR’s home province of Pangasinan.

He loved that the Philippines was portrayed in the international press as the green tiger of Asia.

FVR was an active participant in the Kyoto climate negotiations and was thrilled when US President Bill Clinton called on him to seek help from the Philippines to conclude the negotiations in his final days.

He sent me and Secretary Ramos the note of thanks from Clinton and congratulated us on our work in Kyoto.

On a personal note, he took me to provincial cabinet meetings and put me on the spot to answer questions about mining.

There were insinuations in the press, fueled by special interests, that I was a communist and could not be trusted. But FVR never believed that.

Until the last time I saw him, just before the pandemic, he was also telling everyone around us that he was very proud of me and the work I continued to do.

As he did when I worked for him, FVR continued to send me notes sharing his thoughts and ideas on sustainability.

FVR’s leadership style should be emulated and become a model for future administrations: comprehensive staff work, consensual and inclusive approach to decision-making, global perspective, passion for peace, adherence to democratic principles and processes, full commitment to leveling the playing field, modernizing our economy and government processes, reforming the tax system and emphasizing social reforms, basic decency, settlement peaceful social conflict and, above all, his belief that we can overcome our differences and tribalism and come together as one Filipino team.

The FVR was not only a stabilizer but also a unifier.

He nurtured unity in diversity. Others would exploit these differences or pit us against each other – even for good causes like national security, social reform, the fight against corruption and the war on drugs.

As a pragmatist, Ramos not only recognized there were challenges, but at the same time sought to solve those problems through unity.

FVR’s attitude is one we badly need today as we continue to deal with the COVID pandemic and the looming threat of another health emergency – Monkeypox – hanging over our heads. .

FVR reminds us that we can be a great country and not the bickering, conflicted and disunited nation that Marcos, Erap, GMA, PNoy and Digong gave us.

I can only hope that Marcos Jr will follow the FVR governance model.

Website; tonylavina.com.
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