Press Release
November 26, 2015

Association of Young Filipino-Chinese Entrepreneurs
Diamond Residences Makati City
24 November 2015

Good evening to one and all.

Thank you very much for inviting me to your assembly. I am both very honored and inspired to have been called upon by the Anvil Business Club to share my thoughts on the "about our country's current situation and my proposals to uplift the country" and "suggestions on how you can be part of the process of nation-building".

First, I say that I am honored, precisely because I am particularly being sought for my thoughts and opinions by young Filipino entrepreneurs, who are, without question, equally competent and visionary leaders themselves.

And I am likewise inspired, because here you all are, the emerging new breed of Filipino entrepreneurs, with such optimism and patience, eager and ready to listen and to be educated on your roles in nation-building.

I know for a fact that in your respective corporate and business environments, you are more accustomed to being the ones giving the orders and instructions, and not the other way around. You are more used to calling the shots and being the ones listened to by your people for advice.

Now, you have decided to reverse the roles for the time being. Ngayon, kayo naman ang makikinig sa payo. At sa dami ng mga puwedeng hingan ng payo, isang politiko ang iyong napili!

But kidding aside, this is for good measure. In my humble opinion, it is good and healthy for business people to seek advice from government leaders, at least every once in a while. Being entrusted with the public welfare, government leaders are trained and oriented to see the big picture, to look at things in the macro-level--taking into consideration all the factors and elements of our society, with the end in view of protecting the general will and ensuring "the greatest good for the greatest number". Siyempre, kasama na rin ang ekonomiya at mga businesses sa kabuuan na dapat alalahanin ng isang lingkod-bayan.

But first of all, perhaps you are aware that I filed my candidacy for the Vice-Presidency of the Republic in the 2016 elections. In simple terms, my vision of our country is one that can overcome its economic and social challenges by drawing on our own strengths and drawing on our unity. It is a vision of the Philippines that is prosperous, rich in opportunity, home to happy, morally upright, and productive citizens whose lives are meaningful because theirs is a just society, because theirs is a nation that has become great again.

However, this will be a very daunting task, a task so daunting that it has continually remained a puzzling mystery and has challenged even the great leaders of our history. 26% of the Filipino people are poor, while 11% of Filipinos live in extreme poverty. And further compounding our problem is the grave inequality that pervades in our society now.

Presently, our unemployment rate is at 6.6%, a figure that translates to 3 million able-bodied Filipinos who are without jobs. Whereas, 17% consider themselves under-employed. Hence, this perceived lack of sufficient local opportunities precisely and singularly explains the phenomenon of why more than 5,000 Filipinos leave the country EVERY SINGLE DAY to become OFWs.

Considering the poverty, and the social inequality and injustice that pervade in our society, it seems that we as a collective people are the ones responsible for driving out our very own kababayans to work in other countries, simply because we cannot seem to offer them decent economic opportunities here at home.

So with this very bleak picture of FIlipino society "version 2015", I now segue to the precise part where you will come in and play a very significant role, ladies and gentlemen.

Ladies and gentlemen, I firmly believe that business should take the lead in nation-building, from boosting the economy, via genuine poverty alleviation, to attaining a just and equitable society--all in conscious pursuit of what is called an "inclusive growth" of our economy.

In my simple analysis, business contributes to nation-building through the following very important mechanisms that they perform and operationalize in our economy: tax payments, delivery of basic services to the people, job creation and maintenance, just to name a few.

First, in the area of tax payments, we are aware of the immense contribution of the business sector to the revenue collection of government, year in and year out. So, if the young Filipino-Chinese business people want to ask how they can be of better service to our task of nation-building: contribute your fair and accurate share in the revenue collection of government!

As a bit of inspiration, the BIR publishes, with a certain sense of pride and accomplishment, an annual list of top 500 taxpayers in the country, which constantly reflects the names of (you guessed it right!) individuals with Filipino-Chinese descent and businesses which are owned and managed by Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs.

Second, through the mechanism of job creation. As you all know, owing to the innovativeness, vision and wisdom of entrepreneurs, business enterprises are built, and productivity is spurred through the efficient harnessing of labor. As a result, job opportunities are generated, providing employment to our fellow Filipinos, who can in turn, establish their families and homes and build upon their own dreams.

Hence, I would like to urge you to continue generating local employment opportunities for our fellow FIlipinos. May you always see the wisdom and the need for committing human capital in all of your business endeavors, more so in the face of the threat of computerization, automation and machines that the digital information age brings.

But moreover, at the same, I highly exhort all of you to uphold the VALUE and DIGNITY of the Filipino human capital, as an indispensable component of any commercial endeavor. One equally important facet of your specific function that you perform in society should also be "JOB PROTECTION", or making sure that the jobs that you have generated would likewise be maintained, preserved and protected as much as possible, in as much as these precious jobs, for all you know and care, greatly impact on the lives and future of your employees and other underprivileged kababayans.

As youthful and emerging business leaders of our country, you will contribute greatly to our desired pace of our nation-building if you start within your own respective companies and enterprises, which you operate and manage, by adopting labor-friendly management styles and implementing policies and practices that are beneficial to the welfare of your employees. Further, research has proven that "positive work-life balance" benefits the productivity of employees as much as it benefits the company, meaning they figuratively pay dividends to the entire company as well.

To use a concrete example, and I know this will be a bitter pill to swallow. What can we do to remedy these phenomena of "contractualization" of labor and "minimalization" of employee benefits, which are prevalent now in our country? As managers of the business, you particularly know what goes on in the operations, as well as the effects on the cash-flow and on the books of account of the whole venture. What are the reasons that drive these complex phenomena that are currently besetting our Filipino manpower resource now?

Your expert analyses and number-crunching are essential data in making the government understand this phenomenon and find ways to address the same, in a manner that is ideally tripartite, representing both employee and employer interests, perhaps such as the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP). The mere thought of it may be really difficult to accept and stomach, but it is worth our taking a giant leap of faith as a people, as an important step towards equalizing the forces and leveling the playing field in our society.

Third, in the realm of delivery of basic services to the people. The business sector services the people's needs where the resources and/or the capability of government are inadequate or not up to the desired standard of living of the people. Likewise, the private sector may be tapped as an able partner of government in the planning and operation of very important public infrastructure projects, through the mode of "public-private partnership", which I also happen to advocate in my work in the Senate.

Continue to provide basic services that are safe, high-quality and affordable, and that ultimately improve the lives and the conditions of living of the people. May you never run out of good ideas. With keen and perceptive insight, never cease surveying and analyzing our market conditions and our consumers needs and behavior. And on the side, always strive to integrate a organizational tradition of "corporate social responsibility" as a defining trait or characteristic of your leadership and management style.

In your feasibility studies and expansion plans, explore likewise the possibility of expanding and breeding business growth outwards of Metro Manila. Contribute in the laying of the building blocks in developing the areas outside Metro Manila. In the process, not only will you be able to unearth economic potential yet undiscovered, but will also be able to reach underserved Filipinos. Equally important, this outward urban development will also alleviate the worsening traffic problems and overcrowding in Metro Manila.

Let us consider agriculture, for example. The Philippines used to be an agricultural country. But now, agriculture merely accounts for about 10% of our gross domestic product. Gone are the days when we used to produce our own food. Now, we import almost everything, including the food we eat! Worse, we import even the rice that is our main staple food! Why import, when we can very well plant and harvest on our land? We are not lacking in land and manpower resources! It is just that we are not as blessed with the political will of our government!

Hence, my point is that, as the young, exuberant, innovative and tech-savvy business leaders who will develop and nurture the economy of our future, you may want to consider betting on our agricultural potential, as part of your innovative and diverse entrepreneurial vision. Perhaps you can venture on agricultural production via the corporate organization, with the benefit of adquate capital investment. Landowners and even farmers can be tapped as joint venture partners, at the same time, employees of sufficiently capitalized agricultural corporations of which you can be at the helm. Who knows, the Filipino young business people of today might just be the people that we all have been waiting for to jumpstart and drive upward our declining agricultural economy?

In my continued leadership and public service in the country, you will always be assured of my constant promotion and advocacy of business-friendly policies and a healthy investment-climate in the country, with specific emphases on a stable and conducive peace and order situation, strong public infrastructure network, a just, equitable and sensible taxation system, and a government that is free from red-tape and unnecessary bureaucratic layers.

But then again, everything will start with a common desire for unity: Unity between the rich and the poor; Unity between employers and employees. More importantly, a unity between the government and the people. It is the firm foundation that we need to be able to ask you, the business leaders of our country, to take the lead in nation-building for all Filipinos.

It is the firm foundation we need to be able to help you in that role, and to create a business environment of more opportunities for investors, an environment in which innovation, competition, and customer choice, value-added, drives our growth, and an environment in which businesses and consumers alike can be confident in fair, consistent, and uncompromised regulation.

Hanggang dito na lamang po. Sana po ay suportahan ninyo ako sa aking pangarap at hangad para sa kaunlaran ng ating bansa.

Makakaasa po kayo na magiging katuwang ko ang mga negosyante at ang pribadong sektor upang maisakatuparan ang ating mga plano at mga hinahangad.

Kasama po kayong lahat dun sa ating mga hangarin, mga minamahal kong miyembro ng Anvil Business Club at Association of Young Filipino-Chinese Entrepreneurs!

Mabuhay ang Anvil Business Club at Association of Young Filipino-Chinese Entrepreneurs! Mabuhay ang pribadong sektor!

Maraming salamat po at magandang gabi sa inyong lahat!

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