Bernardo Villegas

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Bernardo Malvar Villegas is a Filipino economist and writer best known for being one of the framers of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,[1][2] for authoring a number of widely used Philippine economics textbooks,[3] and for his role in the founding of two influential Philippine business organizations, the Center for Research and Communication[4] and the Makati Business Club.[5]

He is also known for advising Philippine presidents since the Fifth Philippine Republic came into power in 1986,[6] and as a professor and vice president at the University of Asia and the Pacific,[7] as well as visiting professor at the IESE Business School in Barcelona.[3]


Villegas is a Certified Public Accountant, having obtained his bachelor's degree in commerce and the humanities (both summa cum laude) from De La Salle University. He later earned his doctorate degree in economics at the Harvard University,[8] becoming a teaching fellow at Harvard's College of Arts and Sciences at the age of 21.[9]

While at Harvard, Villegas and Filipino fellow-student Jesus Estanislao attended activities organized by Opus Dei, and became members before returning to the Philippines in 1964.[10]

Center for Research and Communication and Makati Business Club[edit]

On August 15, 1967,[11] Villegas and Estanislao formally established the Center For Research and Communication, a non-profit private research center that served as a think tank for private sector businesses and a provider of economics training programs.[12]

In 1981, Villegas became a member of the founding Executive Board of the Makati Business Club, a forum to address economic and social policy issues which affect the development of the Philippines, together with Enrique Zobel and former ambassador Jose V. Romero Jr.[13][14] Villegas remains a member of the board of trustees.[15]

Constitutional Commission of 1986[edit]

As a prominent Philippine economist towards the end of the Marcos dictatorship and a key member of both the Center for Research and Communication and the Makati Business Club, Villegas played an important role in Philippine history during the mid-1980s. The Philippine economy had been in decline since 1981 and went into a full nosedive in early 1983 after the US increased interest rates, sparking a series of events that led to the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Villegas’ expertise as an economist led to him being appointed as a member of the Philippine Constitutional Commission of 1986, framed the Philippines’ new democratic constitution, which would be ratified by plebiscite in 1987.[16]

At the closing session of the commission, its President Cecilia Muñoz-Palma recognized Villegas’ signature contributions to the constitution:

...principles of solidarity and subsidiarity and the social function of property in the Article on the National Economy, and the right to life of the unborn from conception.[17]

According to his own account, Villegas was part of the minority which objected to the protectionist stance taken by the constitution against foreign investors.[18] However, the majority prevailed and provisions were added to limit the potential role of foreign investors in key sectors of the Philippine economy.[18]

Villegas also played a part in the efforts to recover the unexplained wealth of the Marcos family. In the book “Philippine Political Economy: The Marcos Years,” Philippine Ambassador to Italy Jose Romero Jr. recalls that Dr. Villegas was the source US Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Bosworth had referred to when he testified to the United States Congress House Committee on Foreign Affairs that about US$10 billion worth of capital had left the Philippines since the Philippine economy went into a nosedive in 1983.[19]: 634–635 [16]: 27  The PCGG later cited a similar amount as an estimate of the unexplained wealth of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.[20][21]

As one of the framers of the 1987 constitution, Villegas is considered an amicus curiae (friend of the court) by the Philippine Supreme court.

University of Asia and the Pacific and current roles[edit]

Villegas and Estanislao had attended a private meeting with Opus Dei founder Msgr. Josemaría Escrivá in 1970, which inspired them to transform CRC into a university. This resulted in the CRC offering its first graduate program, the Masters in Industrial Economics. This was followed by the establishment of the CRC's College of Arts and Sciences in 1989, and the government recognition of the new University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) on June 26, 1995.[12] Villegas became a professor at UA&P.[7] But he also remained part of the CRC, which had retained its identity as a think tank,[22] where he now serves as research director.[9]

Villegas has written seven books, articles in Global Nation,[1] several economics textbooks used in Philippine educational institutions, and books on management.[3] He sits on the boards of a large number of Filipino and international corporations in several sectors and industries. He is also a consultant on management development and strategic planning.[15]


Villegas received awards including the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) 1972, Fulbright, Johnson Foundation, Asia Foundation and the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica.

Written works[edit]

  • State of the Philippine Economy
  • Strategic Guidelines to Investments in the Philippines
  • Challenge in Asia
  • The Philippine Economy after the May Elections
  • The Outlook of Asia Economic Region
  • Book of Values, University of Asia and the Pacific, 1998, ISBN 978-971-8527-40-5
  • The Philippine Advantage, University of Asia and the Pacific, 2001, ISBN 978-971-8527-55-9
  • A Filipino's vision for recovery: polevaulting to the third millennium, University of Asia and the Pacific Foundation, 1997, ISBN 978-971-8527-37-5
  • The Philippines at the threshold of the third millennium, University of Asia and the Pacific in cooperation with Philip Morris Philippines Inc., 2000, ISBN 978-971-8527-52-8
  • The Filipino phenomenon, University of Asia and the Pacific Foundation, 1998, ISBN 9789718527443
  • Economics and society: policy perspectives for the 1990s, Sinag-Tala Publishers, 1989, ISBN 978-971-11-7074-5


  1. ^ a b Torres, Tetch (June 27, 2012). "What ails Philippine economy? 2 Constitution framers take differing views". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  2. ^ Clift, Jeremy (December 15, 1988). "Investor interest in RP up". Manila Standard.
  3. ^ a b c "Speaker's Profile - Bernardo M. Villegas" (PDF). Balita. January 12, 2017. p. 4. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  4. ^ Chafuen, Alejandro (May 22, 2013). "Will Think Tanks Become The Universities Of The 21st Century?". Forbes.
  5. ^ "Top Filipino economist sees Cagayan de Oro's potential". CDODev. August 19, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  6. ^ "Economist Dr Bernardo M. Villegas on Nickel Mining Sustainability". Philippine Resources Journal. May 29, 2019. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Board of Trustees". UA&P. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  8. ^ "Executive Profile: Bernardo M. Villegas Ph.D." BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on September 29, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2020.[1][dead link]
  9. ^ a b "Bernardo M. Villegas". Archived from the original on October 26, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  10. ^ "Opus Dei prelate gets warm reception in Manila". Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  11. ^ "University of Asia and the Pacific: Uplifting the standards of Philippine education". The Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on August 16, 2004.
  12. ^ a b "University of Asia & the Pacific".
  13. ^ "History » Makati Business Club". Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  14. ^ "Makati Business Club". Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  15. ^ a b "First Metro Philippine Equity". Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  16. ^ a b Romero, Jose V., Jr. (2008). Philippine political economy. Quezon City, Philippines: Central Book Supply. ISBN 9789716918892. OCLC 302100329.
  17. ^ Munoz-Palma, Cecilia. "Closing remarks of the President of the Constitutional Commission at the final session, October 15, 1986". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.
  18. ^ a b "The wisdom of amending the Constitution". February 12, 2021. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  19. ^ Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, United States Congress House Committee on Foreign Affairs (1987). Investigation of Philippine Investments in the United States: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Ninety-ninth Congress, First and Second Sessions, December 3, 11, 12, 13, 17, and 19, 1985; January 21, 23, and 29; March 18 and 19; April 9 and 17, 1986. U.S. Government Printing Office.
  20. ^ Lustre, Philip M. Jr. (February 25, 2016). "Recovering Marcos' ill-gotten wealth: After 30 years, what?". Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  21. ^ "VERA FILES FACT SHEET: The 1993 secret deal: what the Marcoses wanted in exchange for their ill-gotten wealth". VeraFiles. September 28, 2017. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  22. ^ "History". UA&P Center for Research and Communication. Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved August 20, 2020.

External links[edit]