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An Exemplary Civil Servant: Victor Macalincág (1936 to 2017)

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By Dr. Jaime C. Laya

I didn’t realize till years later that when Victor Macalincág’s and my path first crossed, he was writing “finis” to an important chapter of his life.

Remembering a Man of Honor Former Undersecretary of Finance and National Treasurer Victor Macalincág (1936 to 2017)

Remembering a Man of Honor Former Undersecretary of Finance and National Treasurer Victor Macalincág (1936 to 2017)

In January 1981, my first month as Central Bank Governor, the financial system was in chaos. Businessman Dewey Dee had fled leaving mountains of worthless commercial paper.  Bancom Development Corporation, the largest investment house, was in deep trouble and rather than liquidation, the Monetary Board had decided on rehabilitation. Macalincág was then Department of Finance Technical Staff chief and led the team that devised the complex scheme that helped calm the financial system and led to the founding of today’s strong Union Bank.

After graduating from Arellano (Public) High School, Macalincág took up accounting at the University of the East and in 1956 passed the CPA examination. He joined the Tax Research Center and moved to Bancom in 1965, soon after it was founded by the visionary Sixto K. Roxas. Pioneer Philippine investment bank and creator of the Philippine money and capital markets, Bancom attracted the best and brightest. Macalincág’s first assignments were to design the government securities market—policies, procedures, manuals, etc.—and the floating of the first Treasury Bills, now a key element of Philippine finance.

His work caught the eye of then Secretary of Finance Eduardo Romualdez who invited the young man to join government. He was soon appointed undersecretary (deputy minister) of Finance and national treasurer. With his competence and unquestioned integrity, there Macalincág remained, serving under Presidents Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, and Estrada.

The talented Victor Macalincág was the ideal civil servant who held national interest supreme, was second to none in his field of expertise, worked hard, had a focused, analytical mind, was meticulous in attention to detail, and who nurtured his staff. He was a brilliant negotiator and frequently confounded international counterparts on their own logic, econometric models, and statistics. His reputation was unsullied, whether in public or private life. He was proof that then—and now, with hope—one can rise to the top and remain there through simple merit.

Macalincág was highly regarded in business circles and on his retirement from government in 2001 was invited to join corporate boards. His sharp mind will be missed, among others by Semirara Mining and Power Corporation, Republic Holdings Corporation, Alphaland Corporation, and Crown Equities, Inc.

We would meet in recent years at gatherings of the 1970s and 1980s finance group.  Macalincág never lost his enthusiasm, acuity, and good humor, was unfading in his analysis of challenges and opportunities in the political economy.

Macalincág suffered a stroke and passed away a few weeks ago. He will be missed for his delightful company, infectious laughter, and well-reasoned suggestions on the day’s issues and the international and domestic perceptions over our social, economic, governance, and political situation. He would have completed an evaluation, developed options, and articulated a logical approach, all in good spirit.

We can only hope that there are enough Victor Macalincágs in the public service during these challenging times.

Note:  The late Victor Macalincág is survived by Mrs. Remedios Lava Macalincág, among others former President and CEO of the Development Bank of the Philippines and Independent Director of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank).

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