A democracy-building success story: U.S. assistance to the Philippines after marcos.

Author:Porta, Al La

In 1989, the Bush Administration wanted a high level response to the transition to democracy represented by Cory Aquino and the "people power" revolution. There was broad support within the Administration for a primarily economic response designed to assist the Philippines move from Marcos' "crony capitalism" to a more open and more modern economic system.

This effort had two components. One was the Philippine Assistance Program (PAP) that was largely developed in USAID as the bilateral U.S. initiative, which included advisory assistance to the finance ministry and central bank, trade development and investment assistance, restructuring of customs and the tax authority, energy advisory assistance, and regional economic assistance. There was also political assistance outside the PAP, including development of civil society organizations, public opinion polling, local FM radio outlets, and an increase in educational exchanges. Not much was done in education except to target a couple of management programs in AIM (the Asian Institute for Management in Manila) and the precursor of Bernie Villegas' University of Asia and the Pacific.

The other half of the program was the Multilateral Assistance Initiative (MAI), essentially consisting of donor coordination through the World Bank, which at that time took a strong hand in marshalling international assistance, harmonizing economic programs, and monitoring Philippine government actions and macro-economic performance.

Elliot Richardson was asked to head the U.S. coordinating effort for Philippine assistance. He had been Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Secretary of Defense, and Attorney General in the Nixon Administration as well as special envoy for the Law of the Sea negotiations. His mandate was very general, so Elliot used his "bully pulpit" to convoke various elements of the U.S. government around the above themes and to deal with the U.S. private sector. Investment promotion was considered important to give the new democratic government a good lift-off in employment and economic terms.

-Elliot's office was in the East Asia bureau of the State Department, and he reported through the assistant secretary, first Dick Solomon and later Winston Lord after the change to the Clinton administration. His office consisted only of a secretary and an executive assistant, first John Forbes until mid-1991, then me from 1991 until 1994 (when the function lapsed after the inauguration of the Ramos...

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