Saturday, February 12, 2011

Suicide as Enigma

Anybody who wants to wrestle with the baffling suicide of a former high official with a "strong" personality ought to look for and read the book, "Jaime Ongpin The Enigma: A Profile of the Filipino as Manager," by the late National Artist Nick Joaquin, & published in 1990 (ISBN 971-91184-1-5) by the Jaime V. Ongpin Institute of Business and Government of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. The Jaime Ongpin Institute later became the Ateneo School of Government.

Before he committed suicide on 07 December 1987, Jimmy Ongpin was the first Finance Secretary of Pres. Corazon Aquino. When he was the first Filipino president of the multinational mining company, Benguet Corporation, Jimmy Ongpin dared to publicly criticize the cronyism of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos from 1981 onwards. He was part of the core campaign team, if not the primary campaign finance manager, of Cory Aquino when she decided to challenge Marcos during the 1986 snap election. He was an alumnus of the Ateneo de Manila University, where he studied from high school to college, and became Chairman of the University's Board of Trustees.

What drove the 49-year-old achiever & a father of 5 children (of which the youngest was 15) to shoot himself? The apparently disrespectful way in which he was removed from the Cabinet in mid-September 1987? The grilling he got from four Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings in August and September in which he was accused of dishonesty in the sale of assets of a governmment corporation? The persistent media criticism that he was unpatriotic & over-accommodating to the international bankers and creditors of the massive State debt that the Marcos dictatorship left behind? All of the above & some more?

The book is such a good read.