“When the President does it , that means that it is not illegal.”
Richard M. Nixon
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — As chief executive officer and chair of a multi-million dollar foods and staples retailing empire in the United States, Loida Nicolas-Lewis sheepishly marveled when a New York Times article called the Philippines “the most corrupt nation in the world” in April 2006.
This was when “corruption grew worse after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was reelected president in 2004,” recalled the 72-year-old Fil-Am widow of TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc. founder and CEO Reginald F. Lewis.
Nicolas-Lewis, who recently staged rallies against China’s intrusion in the West Philippine Sea as chair of the U.S. Filipinos for Good Government, blamed the declaration of Martial Law by former President Ferdinand Marcos on September 21, 1972 to be the genesis of the Philippines’ “infamy.”
“Not only did President Marcos nullify the constitution of the Philippines, but he also instituted a culture of corruption into our national consciousness,” she averred.
APV: “How did it happen?”
LNL: “In 21 years of Martial Law, corruption entered into our very soul, into our makeup as a nation. People Power of 1986, a bloodless revolution and change of government, Cory Aquino restored democracy.”
APV: “So Mrs. Aquino became our savior and hope after Marcos?”
LNL: “Sadly, through no fault of hers, nothing much happened in terms of restoration of integrity in government. She had to fight off six coup d’ etat.”
APV: “But she was able to anoint a strong leader in the person of FVR who vowed to bring the Philippines into NIC (newly industrialized country)-hood.”
LNL: “President Ramos was effective in moving the Philippines forward, but six years under the new constitution of 1987 was not enough to uproot the culture of corruption.”
APV: “Because he was succeeded by Erap Estrada?”
LNL: “In 1998 Erap was elected president. Erap para sa mahirap. But in his three years as president it was Erap para kay Erap. In 2001, he was sent away in a second People Power EDSA 2.”
APV: “The real reforms did not happen during the administrations of FVR, Erap and Gloria, do you think it happened under President Noynoy?”
LNL: “Year 2010 ushered in President Noynoy Aquino under the battlecry ‘kung walang corrupt, walang mahihirap.'”
APV: “Please elaborate.”
LNL: “He made good on his campaign promises. In the first year, Merceditas Gutierrez was forced to resign. In 2011 the Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona was impeached for having more money in the bank than what he declared in his statement of assets and liabilities. By his own admission, $2 millions dollars more.”
APV: “You gave President Nonoy credit for these so-called ‘reforms’?”
LNL: “Not only that. In 2012, the entire Janet Napoles scandal broke wide open and we saw powerful senators arrested for corruption. Enrile, Estrada and Revilla. Kim Henares, the new BIR chief, filed 347 tax evasion cases against doctors, lawyers and movie stars–even Manny Pacquiao. Tax revenues rose to P1.3 trillion in 2014.”
Nicolas-Lewis credited President Aquino when Transparency International removed the Philippines from the list of 10 most corrupt nations.
She quoted Morgan Stanley as declaring that the Philippines is now the new tiger of Asia.
“In 2014 S&P, Moody’s and Finch International rating agencies gave the Philippines triple BBB ratings. For the first time, the Philippines became investment grade,” she revealed. “Bloomberg business listed the Philippines as second to China in being the fastest growing nation in the world.”
LNL added: “In 2015, the Philippines with its more thsn nearly six percent GDP growth for the past five years is judged by all it took was five years good-daang matuwid.”
“Who did President Aquino choose to continue his legacy of the daang matuwid? Who did he choose as his successor, as to be president of the Philippines? Mar Roxas.”
Nicolas-Lewis said it was Roxas who introduced business process outsourcing in the Philippines and the industry calls him “the father of BPO call centers.”
Some 1.3 million Filipinos all over the Philippines have been employed and the industry revenue generated $24 billion in 2015, according to her.
The feisty Fil-Am leader also credited Roxas for fighting multinational pharmaceuticals to lower their drug prices by more than 50 percent.
“The weekly crime rate in NCR was reduced from 915 reported per week, 500 less crime reported in the NCR alone. He also fired four out of five Metro Manila polic chiefs who failed to meet crime reduction rates,” she added.
Among other accomplishments of Roxas enumerated by Nicolas-Lewis were the following:
–putting in place drinking water faucets in 300,000 homes in 400 municipalities;
–passing the laws that exempted the minimum wage earners P450 per day from paying income tax;
–planning for government a sustained economic growth, swift justice, high quality jobs;
–producing one billion scholarships for talented students;
–giving affordable and reliable power and boosting infrastructure;
–maximizing tourism and fighting crime systematically.
Roxas, she continued, also expanded the four Ps: Pantawid, Pamil yang Pilipino Program.
“An experienced executive, a track record of achievements in public service, no hint of corruption, inborn integrity and loyalty to the Philippines ans to the people, that’s why Mar Roxas will be the next president of the Philippines,” Nicolas-Lewis concluded.
Nicolas-Lewis’ company, TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc., distributes food and grocery products. It distributes dry groceries, beverages, household products, and frozen food in France.
It also manufactures and markets ice cream and dessert products, potato chips, snacks and beverages principally in selected western European markets.
TLC Beatrice is headquartered in New York City.