Southeast Asian Studies
Online ISSN : 2423-8686
Print ISSN : 2186-7275
ISSN-L : 2186-7275
<Special issue> “Political Networks in Asia,” edited by Takeshi Onimaru and Khoo Boo Teik
The Rise and Fall of Virata’s Network: Technocracy and the Politics of Economic Decision Making in the Philippines
Teresa S. Encarnacion Tadem
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2016 Volume 5 Issue 1 Pages 35-71


The influence of a technocratic network in the Philippines that was formed around Cesar E. A. Virata, prime minister under Ferdinand Marcos, rose during the martial law period (1972–86), when technocracy was pushed to the forefront of economic policy making. Applying concepts of networks, this essay traces the rise and eventual collapse of Virata’s network to a three-dimensional interplay of relationships—between Virata and Marcos, Virata and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and Marcos and the United States. Virata’s close links to social, academic, US, and business community networks initially thrust him into government, where he shared Marcos’s goal of attracting foreign investments to build an export-oriented economy. Charged with obtaining IMF and World Bank loans, Virata’s network was closely joined to Marcos as the principal political hub. Virata, however, had to contend with the networks of Marcos’s wife, Imelda, and the president’s “chief cronies.” While IMF and World Bank support offered Virata some leverage, his network could not control Imelda Marcos’s profligacy or the cronies’ sugar and coconut monopolies. In Virata’s own assessment, his network was weakened when Marcos’s health failed during an economic crisis in 1981 and after Benigno Aquino’s assassination in 1983. In those crises, Imelda Marcos’s network and Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver’s faction of the military network took power amidst the rise of an anti-dictatorship movement. The United States’ switch of support from Marcos to Corazon Aquino sealed the demise of Virata’s network.

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© 2016 Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
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