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People Power

'People Power' + 10

Philippines strives for economic growth

Ressa

March 3, 1996
Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EST
(2000 GMT)

From Correspondent Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Ten years after a peaceful uprising that threw out a dictator and installed housewife Corazon Aquino as president of the Philippines, current leader Fidel Ramos has economic progress as his top priority.

Cory

While the Aquino administration managed to restore democracy, economic success has proved harder to achieve.

Her government introduced long-delayed market-oriented reforms, but because they came toward the end of her administration, both domestic and foreign investors decided to wait and see what Ramos would do.

Aquino also was saddled with failed coup attempts, natural disasters, a divided cabinet riddled with political infighting, and chronic power failures.

Enter Ramos

Ramos, once a general under dictator Ferdinand Marcos, played a key role in the "People Power" revolution that toppled Marcos, his second cousin, in 1986. Under Aquino, Ramos served as armed forces chief and defense secretary.

With her support in a 1992 election, he won the Philippines' top post.

Philippines/Manila map

"I have not changed much," says Ramos, citing his unwavering determination, optimism and commitment to public service as he visits a newly constructed power plant.

"There is no need to compete destructively among the private sector companies. Neither is there any need to put politics ahead of our socio-economic program. There is room for everybody. There are benefits for all people."

So far, so good

His single-minded pursuit of economic growth seems to be working. While the Philippines remains a poor country by most Western standards, Ramos' economic policies increased per capita income nearly 25 percent over a two year period -- from $770 in 1992 to $960 in 1994.

After years of negative growth rates, officials project growth of 7 percent in 1996.

Ramos

Although he was elected by less than a majority of the voters in a seven-way race, Ramos has achieved a very high approval rating. The challenge now is for him to avoid talk of a lame duck presidency as he struggles to push what may be the more unpopular, final points of his economic plan.

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