Trade Secretary Domingo resigns – Palace

MANILA, Philippines (3RD UPDATE) – Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma on Saturday, September 12, confirmed that Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo has submitted his resignation to President Benigno Aquino III. 

"Secretary Gregory Domingo has submitted his resignation to President Aquino and this is under consideration. Secretary [Paquito] Ochoa is awaiting word from the President regarding this matter," Coloma said in a statement.

A Philippine Star report earlier said Domingo "feels burned out and will be leaving the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) by next month."

Domingo’s resignation came in the middle of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Manila, which will culminate in the APEC Leaders' Summit in November.

A couple of hours before the official Palace announcement, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte was asked about the then reported resignation in an interview on state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

At the time, Valte could not confirm the report, but said that Domingo has a major role in the APEC Leaders’ Summit, which is aimed to provide an avenue in sustaining economic growth in the region.

Last month, DTI pushed APEC member economies to address constraints of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to fully participate in trade across the region.

Early this year, DTI started implementation of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy Program (CARS), aimed to develop the country as a regional automotive manufacturing hub.

Sought for comment, Henry Schumacher, executive vice-president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said of the DTI chief's resignation, "Life will go on."

"Secretary Domingo has a good second level of undersecretaries and assistant secretaries. They will be able to keep DTI and Board of Investments running,” Schumacher said in a mobile phone reply.

Asked who he thinks will best replace Domingo, he replied, "PEZA’s (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) Lilia de Lima knows what she is doing and will continue being one of the biggest assets of the country."

Biggest achievement

Domingo’s biggest achievement, according to Schumacher, was his contribution to getting the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) growth up to 6% per year.

"[He contributed] by supporting local and foreign investors in keeping fiscal incentives going against the restrictive views of the Department of Finance and Bureau of Internal Revenue," Schumacher replied via text message.

For John Forbes, senior advisor of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, "cabinet resignations can be expected to increase as the end of the current administration approaches."

"We don't appreciate enough how much work public service in senior position like DTI secretary requires and for a fraction of the compensation in the private sector. We expect Domingo to play an important part in the Philippine economy after DTI, as he has in his long service at Board of Investments and as DTI secretary," Forbes said via mobile phone reply.

Speaking on behalf of Makati Business Club, executive director Peter Perfecto said: "It is unfortunate that Secretary Domingo will resign at this critical juncture when the country is about to host the APEC leaders meeting and as the current administration serves its final year as our country's stewards of good governance and inclusive growth."

"Secretary Domingo has been a partner of the private sector in various efforts to make the country a more attractive investment option, tirelessly leading trade and investment missions to other countries and welcoming business missions from abroad. We will respect the Secretary's reasons for stepping down as well as the Palace's final decision with the hope that a person of integrity and competence be appointed to the DTI urgently," Perfecto said in a text message.

Domingo served as the executive director of SM Investments Corporation and the managing director of Chase Manhattan Bank in Manila, and before that, became the DTI chief.