The bold step of PGMA

Months ago, rumors were going around about PGMA running for congress. When I heard about it, I mentioned to her closest advisers that it’s not a good idea. People will find it unbecoming of a president to seek a lower post, especially after serving the highest position in the country for nine years.

Looking back at PGMA’s career, she began as a teacher at Assumption College, an Assistant Professor at Ateneo de Manila University and as Senior Lecturer at the UP School of Economics. She entered the government in 1987, serving as Assistant Secretary and Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). PGMA then ran for senator, earning a three-year term during the general election. She was re-elected in 1995, topping the senatorial elections with nearly 16 million votes. PGMA also began her term as Vice President in 1998, being the first female Vice President of the Philippines. We all remember when she assumed presidency after People Power Two. She then won against Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004, by a margin of over a million votes.

PGMA has come a long way from being a teacher to being the longest serving president next to Marcos. She has done well in steering our economy towards progress. Even those who criticize her would agree. Having a low popularity, I guess, is one of the hazards in staying in the position for years. We always see this happening to anyone in power as there will always be criticisms and oppositions. But clearly, when she turns over the key to the next president, the car will be running quite well.

Despite the budget deficits, massive reconstruction efforts and capital expenditure for roads, bridges, schools and other infrastructures destroyed by recent typhoons, will be similar to the Americans’ stimulus package that will help create more jobs, and a more conducive climate for negosyo opportunities. Without a doubt, 2010 will be a banner year for the Philippines. We may see our Peso hit an all time low of P43/dollar, with the euphoria of a new president.

PGMA, if she wins, will be back as congresswoman. It is a bit unusual. But, let’s not underestimate what she can contribute again as a lawmaker. With all her experience and competence, she can do a lot for Congress and her district. PGMA will still be young and energetic as she is today. Keeping up with a very tight schedule and being prompt in all meetings and engagements are great qualities.

She is definitely taking a bold step – something that many people will not do. It is something that none of the past Presidents during our lifetime have done. But then again, we don’t know what PGMA’s destiny is. For her to muster enough votes to be speaker, she must have the majority of congress backing her up. That would be difficult if the opposition wins. As we know, the party of the incumbent President normally dominates the congress. So even if she does want to move towards a parliamentary form of government, it would not be her call by that time in Congress. She will even have to get the support of the Senate, which is even a bigger challenge.

In the end, let destiny be the judge.

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While working with various government agencies during the last four years in developing a template for entrepreneurship in the Philippines, I have come to see that there are many in the government who are very competent, hardworking and dedicated.

Go Negosyo has been working closely with DTI led by Secretary Peter Favila. He also Chairs the Micro SME Development Council. His Undersecretary, Merle Cruz, has been a strong supporter of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). They understand the needs of the MSMEs and see the value of a strong partnership with a group like Go Negosyo to provide the needed mindset change, entrep education and mentorship and complement their various programs.

We have also already launched, together with DTI, National Livelihood and Development Corp., Landbank and President’s Social Fund, the “Tagumpay Mula Sa Kahirapan” campaign. It will showcase many micro entreps who have beaten poverty through negosyo. To support that campaign with capacity building, we have also started in Davao the series of Negosyo Seminar (Negosem), which trained 800 entrepreneurs last Saturday. Our Go Negosyo Angelpreneurs like Ping Sotto, Pax Lapid, Nonoy Espeleta, Jorge Soriano, Tess Dimaculangan and Mon Lopez were there to teach and inspire all these entreps. The goal is to train 10,000 microentreps in 20 Negosems in all parts of the country in the next six months.

Another hardworking lady is Lina Amata, the President of NLDC. Lina works with microfinance units, making sure that they get the necessary support in funding, as these micro-finance institutions are important in directly helping microentreps. The partnership with Go Negosyo also helps complement their financing programs with the important Negosyo concepts and tools to strengthen the micro and small entreps’ knowhow, when they borrow from MFIs and to help train the loan agents as well.

Gilda Pico, President and CEO of Landbank, also has a special concern for micro and small entreps as they continuously provide financing to the micro and small entreps. She attends every awarding ceremony of the SIKAP Awards and sees to it that Landbank remains supportive towards the development of MSMEs.

We also have Patricia Sto. Tomas, Chairman of the Board of the Development Bank of the Philippines. Having been a former Secretary of Labor, she knows that the formula to beating poverty is having the right positive enterprising attitude, no matter what our role is in society.

These four women have the strong passion to help Filipinos fight poverty. They realize that the solution to poverty is through a negosyo mindset and knowhow. There are a lot of MSMEs, as we speak, who are beating poverty by putting up a successful negosyo. Yes, they struggle and many fail, but with the help of these women, the right character, the right entrep knowledge, Filipinos and entreps have hope.

Go Negosyo can only do so much. It is the men and women in government today that can make a big difference. Through partnerships, this can be explosive.

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We would also like to congratulate Mary Joy Abaquin for being recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines. Joy, who is the Directress of the Multiple Intelligence International School and one of the Go Negosyo Angelpreneurs, was recognized for pioneering her school that serves students who have specific thrusts for leadership and entrepreneurship. Congratulations from Go Negosyo!