INCOMING President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. has proven that his call for unity extends beyond party lines as he reappoints an economist who once served under former president Benigno Aquino III.
In a press briefing on Monday afternoon, President-elect Marcos announced that he had asked former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Arsenio M. Balisacan, Ph.D., to return as the country’s chief economist.
“I have also tapped an old friend who’s also formerly in this position, Arse Balisacan, who is our former NEDA chief and I’ve asked him to return to NEDA,” Marcos said.
“I’ve worked with him extensively at the time when I was governor. We have very similar thinking in that regard kaya’t malakas ang loob ko, I know he’s very competent, I know his policies are policies that will be for the betterment of our country,” Marcos added.
Incoming Executive Secretary Atty. Vic Rodriguez, who was with BBM during the press briefing, confirmed that Balisacan had accepted the appointment.
“The economic managers are going to be critical for the next several years because of the pandemic and the economic crisis. So that is something that we are looking at very carefully,” Marcos said in a previous news conference.
The President-elect had previously said that competence and not a nominee’s political leanings would be the basis for his appointment of key officials.
“I continue to be guided by, as I said before, competence and willingness to work with the next administration. In our discussions, we removed immediately what their political leanings have been.”
Balisacan will replace the current Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning and concurrent NEDA Director-General Karl Kendrick Chua, whom President Rodrigo Duterte appointed in 2021.
Balisacan, a well-respected economist, has served as NEDA chief from 2012 to 2016 during the term of Pnoy.
Before his cabinet appointment, Balisacan was the Dean of the UP School of Economics and Director-Chief Executive of the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
Balisacan currently chairs the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), a government body that aims to promote fair market competition, an inclusive economy, and advocate consumer welfare.