AAS Annual Meeting

Southeast Asia Session 648

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Session 648: Economic Policymaking and the Philippine Development Experience, 1960-1985: An Oral History Project

Organizer: Teresa Tadem, University of the Philippines, Philippines

This panel looks into the role of the technocracy in economic policymaking and the Philippine economic development experience from 1960 to 1985. This was the period where the technocracy, which is referred to by Jean Meynaud as “system of governance in which technically trained experts rule by virtue of their specialized knowledge and position in dominant political and economic institutions” was believed to have reached its economic as well as political heights. The papers in this panel will be based on the findings of a three year research project on economic decision-making from 1960 to 1985. This covers the Macapagal Administration from 1960-1964 to the Marcos Administration 1964-1986 whereby key technocrats of this period were interviewed. These interviews documented firsthand the dynamics of the decision-making process during this period of Philippine history, focusing on key policy issues and the role of key decision makers. Based on these interviews, the panel papers seek to explain how the process of decision-making during this period had shaped the country’s development trajectory and its governance institutions and practices. This panel in particular will look into the emergence and role of the technocracy in the crucial stages of the countries’ economic decision-making process and the politics as well as political economy of policy-making in the Philippines. By using the oral history approach through interviews with key policy decision-makers, the panel papers also highlights the useful contribution of this methodological approach to contemporary Philippine social science research.

Economic Policymaking and the Philippine Development Experience, 1960-1985: An Overview
Yutaka Katayama, Kobe University, Japan

This paper is an overview of the oral history research project on economic policymaking and the Philippines development experience which was conducted in 2007-2010. Among the approaches it used was the developmentalist state approach under the authoritarian regime during the Marcos administration (1965-1986) from the perspective of his technocrats. Whereas the technocracy brought about generally positive results in other Southeast Asian countries, like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, the Philippine experience shows that state-building and economic policies dictated from above failed to bring forth the much desired political and economic development. With an emphasis on the weakness of the state, the total failure of state building during the Marcos regime may therefore be a logical consequence but there is still a need to scrutinize further the Philippine state weakness and to explain its causes from the perspectives of the “economic architects”. Technocrats generally maintain a low profile and seldom offer an explanation regarding their views and actions. This oral history project has paved the way for a deeper examination of the role of technocrats in developmentalist states. This research did not simply seek to document the view of key figures. It likewise aimed to provide a political analysis of the technocracy during the authoritarian regime, particularly the process by which policies were developed and distorted for its own purposes, explaining further how the Philippine case may be unique compared to the experiences of other similarly situated regimes.

Economic Dimensions of Technocracy in the Philippines
Cayetano W. Paderanga, University of the Philippines, Philippines

This paper examines the economic roots and forces that may have helped bring about the rise of the technocrats in the Philippines. It particularly probes into the economic background for the decision making that took place in government in the post second world war period. It is based on the belief that the economic conditions and needs of particular times dictated that certain types of decisions had to be made. The specific requirements of these conditions gave some goals predominance and some groups or regions advantages that they were then able (or unable) to use toward their agendas. These circumstances may even have forced particular solutions, personalities or movements despite opposition from other quarters. It also views the events within the larger context of broad historical events that shape the economic conditions of each distinctive period. As a result of these broad movements, the opinions and judgments of individuals whose main claim to power and influence can be traced to their technical expertise rose in importance. These individuals, now known as “technocrats,” started to assumed greater importance in the public sphere. The framework used here identifies these specific trends and events that provided changes or turning points that increased the sway of the technocrats. The delineation will utilize the following questions: what were the pressing economic needs and issues of the period? Who were the main protagonists and what characteristics defined them? What structural changes and programs took place during that period?

The Philippine Technocracy and the Politics of Economic Decision-Making (1960-1985)
Teresa Tadem, University of the Philippines, Philippines

This paper examines the role of the Philippine technocracy in confronting the political challenges concerning the formulation and implementation of their economic policies from 1960, which marked the emergence of the technocracy in the Philippines up to the 1985, during the martial law years which witnessed the sudden rise as well as fall of the Marcos technocrats. It is guided by interviews with key technocrats during this period which were conducted in a project on “Economic Policy-making and the Philippine Development Experience, 1960-1985: An Oral History Project”. There are two dimensions of the challenges which the paper interrogates. One is the general challenge to their development strategy which emphasized on liberalization and the promotion of an export-oriented industry. The other is with regards to the governance issue of transparency and accountability in the implementation of these economic policies. Regarding the sources of the political challenges to the technocracy, the paper probes into the following among others: 1) working under an authoritarian state, specifically, under a strong leader, President Ferdinand Marcos; 2) dealing with a powerful First Lady, Mrs. Imelda Marcos; 3) the dynamics among the personalities in the Cabinet; 4) the persistence of patronage politics and corruption as exemplified by Marcos cronies and political allies. In meeting these challenges, this paper analyzes the power base of the Philippine technocracy, in particular, its foundation and how it is able to enhance this through this particular period of Philippine history and the factors which also undermined it.

The Marcos Technocracy and State-Building
Temario C. Rivera, International Christian University, Japan

This paper examines the impact of the key Marcos technocrats on state-building as particularly seen in the reorganization of government agencies and creation of new political institutions. While the technocrats found themselves largely freed from the normal constraints of the checks and balances of a formal democratic system, they also had to contend with powerful cronies of the president, the imposition of international financial institutions, and the personalized relations with the leadership. In retrospect, many of them ironically admit that the institutional reforms attributed to them could have been done even under the constraints of the old formal democratic system. Failing to provide the political legitimacy and economic growth for the authoritarian regime of Marcos, the technocrats found their policy and institutional initiatives overtaken and overwhelmed by combined political and economic crisis in the context of growing popular resistance against the regime.