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BANKING

Philippines: Arroyo says bailouts are not the answer

As the Philippines faces the Legacy scandal, president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is trying to reassure the world that her country is better placed to withstand the global crisis, after the lessons of 1997. She talks to Lawrence White about Asian regional cooperation, trying to beat corruption and why she’s letting Legacy fail.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
"While other countries, especially in the west, were deregulating and condoning financial adventurism, we were strengthening our regulations"

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

THE NEWS AND chat shows bubbling from the taxi’s radio on the drive to Manila’s Malacañang palace are alive with talk of the latest scandal, and although much of the debate is in Tagalog, familiar phrases such as "Securities and Exchange Commission" and "investigation" occasionally surface. The SEC’s commissioner, Jesus Martinez, is being investigated for his involvement in the affairs of Legacy, a banking group accused of defrauding investors through the sale of fraudulent investment schemes. On the message boards of the local newspapers the reaction is weary, more resigned than outraged. "Another one bites the dust, or should I say, another government official takes a commission. When will this ever end?" writes one Norman Villamayor of Mandaluyong City. In the sedate grounds of the palace, there’s no evidence of turmoil or civic unrest. A few green-shirted men sweep the immaculate garden as Euromoney is ushered through security checks and into a cool, dim waiting room.