By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Foremost nationalist economist Alejandro Lichauco passed away at 3:17 in the morning of May 22 at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. He was 87.
He died from multiple organ failure brought about by his long bout with pneumonia, his nephew Lorenzo Lichauco said.
He is survived by his wife Mita who was at his bedside when he died, along with another nephew David Hontiveros, Lorenzo said.
A retired professor at the University of the Philippines, Lichauco was a prolific writer and exponent of genuine Philippine economic independence from foreign domination, chiefly by the United States of America.
An Harvard economics and law graduate, he represented Rizal province’s first District to the 1971 Constitutional Convention but opposed the final version of the charter. He was arrested as he left the convention floor. He was eventually placed under house arrest after his release from Camp Crame.
Lichauco also worked as policy director of the Philippine Chamber of Industries, the Congressional Economic Planning Office and the then National Economic Council (now the National Economic Development Administration, NEDA) of the government under various administrations.
He was tireless in calling for Philippine national industrialization, writing books and joining mobilizations against foreign domination of the local economy. He joined Senator Claro M. Recto’s Nationalist Citizens’ Party in the ’50s and became a member of various nationalist organizations well into the ’90s.
National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison called Lichauco a great Filipino patriot, advocate of full national independence and genuine economic development.
Lichauco and Sison were among the founders of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) in 1966, along with Senator Lorenzo Tañada, Dean Jose Lansang, Professors Renato Constantino and Francisco Nemenzo Jr.
According to Sison, Lichauco encouraged the founding of Kabataang Makabayan in 1964 and participated in activities that exposed and opposed “unequal treaties with the US, which included the US-RP Mutual Defense Pact, the Military Bases Agreement, the Military Assistance Agreement, the Laurel-Langley Agreement, and the Quirino-Foster Agreement.”
“Most importantly, he manifested and proved by word and deed his conviction and competence as a patriotic and progressive Filipino,” Sison wrote in his tribute to Lichauco.
Lichauco authored many nationalist books such as the International Economic Order and the Philippine Experience, Towards a New Economic Order and the Conquest of Mass Poverty, Nationalist Economics, the Philippine Crisis and Hunger, and Corruption and Betrayal, among others.
His critique of US imperialism that he submitted to the 1971 Constitutional Convention was published by New York’s Monthly Press and was called the Lichauco Paper.
Independent think tank Ibon Foundation also called Lichauco a patriot, a progressive thinker and a staunch anti-imperialist.
“Ibon Foundation is grateful for all of Mr Lichauco’s contributions to the continuing struggle for Philippine sovereignty and national independence,” it said.
Lichauco served as one of IBON’s founding board members in 1978 until 1986.
His nephew Lorenzo said his uncle rarely went out since 2010 because of his failing eyesight.
“He was a generous uncle. I often came to him for advice while I was still studying and even when I was already a career person,” Lorenzo, a stockbroker, said.
“He was US-educated and he was able to see through the American agenda in the Philippines. He often talked about uplifting the lives of the poor, Philippine industrialization, and love of country,” Lorenzo said.