By: Erik Espina
IN a generation of “Hugot Lines” starving for intellectual beacons, my column may be a surly reminder for so called “millennials” with vague memories of a period when lumiscent minds, like dinosaurs, commonly roamed the halls of governance. It was customary Filipino value and traditional standard for national leadership in the public eye, then.
And the republic was made richer and more stable by them. Popularity, “sincerity” and “tsinelas politics” tertiary to the principal gravitas of brilliance validated by education, experience, and proven track record. It was in this period in Philippine life, Dominador “Domeng” Aytona was born in Liboon, Albay. As working student he graduated his initial schooling with “high honors.”
After his marriage, he worked at the General Auditing Office taking evening classes at the University of Manila where he obtained three degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (1947) Summa Cum Laude; Bachelor of Laws (1949), Magna Cum Laude; Master of Laws (1951), Cum Laude. He took the Bar in 1950 and placed second over-all with a grade of 94.55%.
At 36 years old, President Ramon Magsaysay appointed him Commissioner of the Budget. In 1960 President Carlos Garcia noticed his talent and made Domeng Secretary of Finance concurrent as Chair of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank. Eventually as Senator of the 7th Congress he was Finance Chair tasked to present the National Budget. According to my father (Rene), Aytona’s sharp mind made sure the budget was well understood and approved by the Senate.
The General Appropriations Act was a book thickened by the ‘Line-item Budgeting’. From head of agency to janitor, projects etc. public cost was transparent sans “pork barrels and lumps sums.” Aytona has joined the demi-gods in Mt. Olympus with the best and brightest Senate elected in our republican history: eight bar topnotchers, with 2/3rd as accomplished lawyers, the rest outstanding figures in their own right. The nation is further impoverished by such loss, again orphaned, with the departure of another enduring example, a true light in Philippine politics. Condolences.