By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

Batangas 6th District Rep. Ralph Recto (Photo courtesy of House of Representatives)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has picked House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto as the new head of the Department of Finance (DOF), replacing Benjamin Diokno, Malacañang announced Thursday.

Marcos will lead Recto’s oath-taking on Friday, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement sent to Palace reporters.

Recto will relinquish his posts as Batangas 6th District congressman and subsequently, as one of the Deputy Speakers at the House of Representatives.

He also served three terms in the Senate, where he served as the Senate President Pro Tempore and Senate Minority Leader.

Before being elected senator, he was a three-term congressman of Batangas’ 4th District.

He also worked as director general of the National Economic and Development Authority in 2008 to 2009 under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Recto earned his bachelor’s degree in Commerce major in Business Management from De La Salle University-Manila.

He also acquired a master’s degree in Strategic Business Economics from the University of Asia and the Pacific and another master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines.

He took up a leadership course at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Apart from Recto, Frederick Go will also take his oath before Marcos as Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs, Garafil said.

Diokno, biz group

Outgoing Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno expressed his confidence in Recto, saying: “I am pleased to announce that I will be turning over my seat as Finance Secretary to Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto.”

“I am proud knowing that I will be leaving my post at a time when the Philippine economy, in general, and the DOF, in particular, are in a better state of affairs than when I inherited them,” he added in a statement Friday.

Diokno, who took over the Finance chief post on July 1, 2022, committed to pursuing the Marcos administration’s goals of reducing the deficit-to-GDP ratio to 3 percent, achieving upper middle-income status by 2025, and bringing down poverty incidence to single-digit by the end of the President’s term.

He led the economic team in crafting the Philippines’ Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) which embodies the government’s commitment to pursuing fiscal consolidation, ensuring that sustainability is given priority in the management of finances without sacrificing economic growth.

Diokno also advocated for an improved revenue collection performance and also proposed to improve Philippine tax laws to be at par with international standards.

In his almost two-year tenure as Finance Secretary, Diokno also led 12 international Philippine Economic Briefings (PEBs) in Singapore, New York, Washington, D.C., Frankfurt, London, Tokyo, Toronto, Doha, Dubai, and San Francisco.

He also led five local PEBs in Manila, Davao, Cebu, and Laoag, as well as several other roadshows and investor dialogues where he championed the Philippines’ improved investment environment and game-changing reforms to foreign investors.

Diokno also championed climate finance in various high-level meetings and intergovernmental forums like that of the Group of Twenty (G20), Vulnerable 20 Group of Finance Ministers (V20) – Group of Seven (G7) Global Shield Against Climate Risks, and the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28).

In a separate statement, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) lauded Diokno for doing a good job in leading the DOF.

PCCI president Enunina Mangio also welcomed the appointment of Recto as the new Secretary of Finance.

“Senator Recto is perfectly suited for the job. He has the experience, expertise and political backing that are critical if he is to oversee the strengthening of the country’s economic and fiscal positions. He has led the National Economic Development Authority and authored and sponsored landmark measures that have helped the country weather economic crises even as some were unpopular,” Mangio said.

She was referring to the Expanded Value-Added Tax, the Rice Tariffication Law, and the Rent Control Act, among others.

Mangio is hopeful that Recto will continue to push for policies and reforms that are supportive of the growth of businesses and to ensure that the country’s economic gains are sustained.

“We look forward to continuing working and collaborating with the government to drive our economy forward,” she said. (with reports from Anna Leah Gonzales/PNA)