The Commission of Appointments (CA) has officially confirmed the ad interim appointment of Dr. Benjamin E. Diokno as Secretary of Finance on November 23, 2022.
“[B]eing Central Bank Governor, DBM [Department of Budget and Management] Secretary, Department of Finance now, he has come full circle…a welcome addition to the President’s economic team. When the President announced the appointment of Secretary Diokno as Department of Finance head, markets went up and stabilized…all business leaders from all the federations had come out with full support. [Y]ou have my 1000 percent support, as I did in 2016. My faith in you has never waned,” said Senate President and CA Chairperson Juan Miguel Zubiri during his opening statement in support of Secretary Diokno.
With Secretary Diokno’s more than 40 years of experience in public service, academe, and international affairs, Senator Loren B. Legarda manifested her full confidence in Secretary Diokno’s appointment, saying “I would like to convey my more than 100 percent support for the competence of this man, whom I know both professionally and personally. I think as the head of the economic team we can ask no more and I know that he will deliver his best for our country and our people.”
“Secretary Diokno is not only known for his proficiency in economics and tax reform, but also for his integrity and competence. Sa totoo lang po mataas po ang respeto ni dating Pangulong Duterte kay Secretary Diokno, even to the point na nakikiusap si dating [Pangulo] sa kanya kung mayroon siyang gustong i-suggest,” said Senator Christopher “Bong” Go in his manifestation.
(Secretary Diokno is not only known for his proficiency in economics and tax reform, but also for his integrity and competence. In fact, former President Duterte has high respect for Secretary Diokno, to the point that the former president requests for his suggestions.)
“Kung ang nominee po ay napagkatiwalaan ng apat na pangulo, nasisiguro ko na siya’y karapat-dapat lamang sa responsibilidad na ibinigay sa kanya,” added Representative Jose Gay Padiernos.
(If the nominee has had the full trust of four presidents, I am sure he is worthy of the responsibility entrusted to him.)
Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada testified to Secretary Diokno’s competence, saying, “I know this nominee personally…and I think he is one of the best cabinet secretaries under the administration of my father, former President Estrada.”
“I believe in the competency of Secretary Diokno, and I believe he is the right person to head the Department of Finance…I will give my 3,000 percent to Secretary Diokno,” said Assistant Minority Floor Leader of the CA Representative Johnny T. Pimentel.
In her sponsorship speech, Senator Imee R. Marcos remarked, “The global economic devastation following in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic today demands the most committed and tested of men. [W]ith his qualifications and experience and character, we are certain he will be more than up to the task.”
Prior to his role as Secretary of Finance, Secretary Diokno served as Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) from 2019 to 2022, during which he skillfully steered the BSP through the pandemic.
His stint as Governor proved to be one of his most crucial and greatest achievements to date as he demonstrated his ability to take decisive monetary measures in cushioning the impact of the pandemic and paving the way towards economic recovery. For this, Secretary Diokno was duly recognized as “Global Central Banker of the Year” by influential international monthly banking, finance, and business magazine, The Banker, in 2022.
Furthermore, he spearheaded the promotion of financial inclusion through the power of digitalization, as outlined in the BSP’s Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap 2020-2023.
Before taking on the role of Governor, he served as Secretary of the DBM during the terms of Presidents Corazon Aquino, Joseph Estrada, and Rodrigo Duterte. He took the opportunity to push for an expansionary fiscal policy to support investments in human capital development and public infrastructure during his early tenure in the DBM.
Secretary Diokno contributed to significant policy reforms that strengthened institutions and regulatory frameworks.
For one, the 1986 Tax Reform Program, which he helped craft, simplified the Philippine income tax system and introduced the value-added tax (VAT). Moreover, he was responsible for designing the 1991 Local Government Code of the Philippines, initiating the What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get policy to streamline the release of funds, and sponsoring the internationally-recognized Government Procurement Reform Act to modernize, regulate, and standardize government procurement activities in the Philippines.
On top of these, Secretary Diokno has a firmly established international presence from when he served as an adviser and consultant to multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Commission, and USAID.
He currently leads the Marcos administration’s economic team in reducing the deficit-to-GDP ratio to pre-pandemic rates, bringing down poverty incidence to single-digit, and elevating the Philippine economy to upper middle-income status.
“I had the privilege to sponsor Secretary Diokno in 2016, and he had the honor of having the fastest hearing on record of the CA at five minutes. [H]e continues to prove himself to us today, that his leadership is unquestionable, he is steering the ship of state in this very troubled financial time. The DOF for me is in great hands under the stewardship of this fine patriot and gentleman,” said Senate President Zubiri in closing upon officially declaring Secretary Diokno’s confirmation as approved.