Presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. has released to the media a list of economic and governance experts his campaign spokesman, Rep. Francis Escudero, has described as “the most potent group of economists and planners that can be formed.”

Note the “potent” part. What the Poe camp has put together is a group of advisers, not an economic and governance platform. The specific programs are yet to be formed; they will come later, when—or if—Poe is elected President.

Not one woman is in the list, I hope not because the Poe camp believes that the country has no woman expert in economics and governance. Or worse, that it doesn’t think the concerns of women to be urgent enough to address at the national level. Give it time, however. I suspect that other lists are forthcoming, assuming Poe is not disqualified from running for the presidency.

The credentials of the people Poe and company have put together are impressive nevertheless. Those credentials include doctorate degrees from some of the most prestigious foreign schools including the United States’ Harvard and Yale universities; deanships in the University of the Philippines; decades of research and teaching in the arts of governance and public administration; service in government finance institutions; and business experience.

Although Escudero said that Poe himself had sought the help of these experts, there is no way that Poe could have known who and what to look for and where—except, in the manner of anyone with any sense of where the country’s intellectual resources are—in the general direction of the country’s elite schools, meaning UP, De La Salle, and Ateneo de Manila. (The latter is for some reason not represented at all in the Poe list—which, however, also includes at least one professor from the more plebeian Polytechnic University of the Philippines, or PUP.)

My guess is that Joseph Estrada’s brother- in- law Raul de Guzman, a retired professor of UP’s National College of Public Administration and Governance, recruited the UP academics in the list.

In 1998 De Guzman had provided Estrada the same service, in response to complaints about the latter’s limited acquaintance with economics and governance, among others. To dispel the vast reservations in the business community and civil society over his intellectual and administrative abilities, in 1998 Estrada’s camp released a list of some 40 advisers in virtually the same fields. Once Estrada was elected, some of these experts ended up in his administration, among them UP’s Benjamin Diokno (Budget) and Felipe Medalla (National Economic and Development Authority), both from the UP School of Economics.

If history seems about to repeat itself, it’s likely to be as farce. There’s no escaping the sense of d

Prof. Luis V. Teodoro is a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, where he used to teach journalism. He writes political commentary for BusinessWorld.

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