27 March 2015

President Aquino delivers keynote address in the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry convention
President Benigno S. Aquino III delivered the keynote address during the opening of the 30th Biennial Convention of the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex on Friday.The President attended the event with Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Secretary Joel Villanueva.

In his speech, President Aquino invited leaders of the Filipino-Chinese business community from all over the country “to do even more to help us empower the Filipino people”.

“When I was in the Legislature, I proposed a measure that called for businesses to share part of their net new profits with their employees. The thinking behind this was simple: Our business environment had reached a point where management and labor had become too adversarial. Where labor wanted more benefits, management wanted to minimize costs, leading to a seemingly endless tug-of-war, often at the expense of potentially lucrative opportunities for all. My intent was to make the antagonistic “you” versus “I” into a “we,” and the methodology was a system that rewards productivity, that allows all stakeholders to benefit from increased profits. I do not expect such a bill to be passed anytime soon, but perhaps your companies can take the initiative: make the effort to give your employees a little more, and it will serve to drive them to be more productive, while at the same time spurring a virtuous cycle of trust and confidence, and sustained growth in terms of our economy,” said the President.

During the opening ceremony, President Aquino also witnessed the presentation of the Plaque of Recognition to FFCCCII President Dr. Alfonso Siy by FFCCCII Chairman Emeritus Lucio Tan.

Siy thanked President Aquino for attending the convention and expressed the federation’s full support to the President’s aspiration for a better life for the people.

Also gracing the opening of the convention carrying the theme “Gearing up for ASEAN Integration and Sustainable Growth” were Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, members of the diplomatic corps and FFCCII’s partners and benefactors.

Some 750 delegates were expected to participate in the three-day convention representing the federation’s member chambers and trade and industry associations nationwide.

The convention hopes to review the past activities and accomplishments of the FFCCCII for the term 2013-2015; lay down new policies as may be necessary; and elect members that will constitute the Council Representatives. From the Council Representatives, the member of the Board of Directors will be elected, from which the Corporate Officers of the federation will be elected. PND (jm)

National Peace Summit to discuss Bangsamoro Basic Law eyed
President Benigno S. Aquino on Friday said a National Peace Summit will be held to better understand the importance of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).The President made the announcement in a speech delivered on the first year anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“The Bangsamoro Basic Law is one of the most important proposed bills of our administration. It answers the two most pressing problems of our countrymen: poverty and violence. This bill is the product of 17 years of extensive study and negotiations.

“Even then, there are those who oppose its enactment. Unfortunately, their criticism solely stems from a lack of understanding of the BBL; take, for example, their statements that there will be a separate police force for the Bangsamoro once it is enacted into law. Should we trust those who say that the peace talks should be ceased, yet offer no other solutions? If we believe these people, where will they take us?”

The President said that if the proposed bill is lacking, it can be addressed by pushing through with the debates on it.

“With the continuation of hearings about the BBL in Congress, each one is given an opportunity to understand the proposed bill. We believe an initiative that arose out of good intentions can be fixed by those who likewise have good intentions towards their fellowmen,” he said.

He said he was aware that the events in Mindanao, together with the incident in Mamasapano, have sowed doubt in the minds of the people and has pushed aside the objective evaluation of the BBL.

“To address this, I am inviting citizen leaders known for their wisdom and integrity to stand as independent convenors. These include Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Howard Dee, and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman. They will gather other responsible and respected leaders to spearhead a National Peace Summit to deliberate on and discuss the BBL. They will dissect the proposed law in a calm and reasonable manner that will not incite anger and hopelessness. This way, the BBL can be improved. They will write a report that will be made public, so that everyone may be informed, and so that more of our countrymen may understand the matter. In this manner, we will be able to advance a reasonable decision as regards the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he explained.

The President said, “There are also those who call for an end to the peace process. They say that an all-out war is the way to go. And I ask them: What gain do you see from waging war? Now that we are moving forward as a nation and are on the cusp of success, do they really think that we should advance violence, only to bring us back to the path of hardship?”

The President also noted that previous administrations have tried an all-out war approach. “All-out war has been the response since the 70s. How did that turn out for them and for us? The only result: hundreds of thousands of casualties, ruined livelihoods, and a status quo of suffering in Mindanao. Is it not clear that their approach was wrong?”

President Aquino also stressed that “if the peace process is derailed once more, we will lose ground for sincere dialogue with leaders, and with all the Moros who are ready to listen to reason and who genuinely seek peace”.

“Isn’t it possible that they too might be pushed to join those who want violence? If the troubling situation in Mindanao worsens, the wounds would grow deeper, and more persons would resent their condition. Those who were previously neglected and abused by the system and by institutions will further feel mistreated. Those who have never been reached by the assistance of government will suffer all the more. Do you think that, should all this happen, they will be sincere partners in peace talks after being hurt, after shedding blood, and after being persecuted?”

“Let me make it clear: This decision is not just for the remainder of my term, but for the benefit of the next generations. To you, the young people, will you suffer a society in which you would be required to march into war instead of fulfilling your dreams? To the parents: Would you want the next generation to inherit a future marked by conflict? We will not allow this to happen. We will continue on the path that will bring us closer to peace,” he continued.

“Let us remember: The potential of two generations has been wasted because of conflict. Now that we are all here, are we going to allow the succeeding generations to meet the same fate?

“Violence cannot resolve violence; anger can never come to an end, if it is also met with anger. Only compassion can put an end to violence; only love can extinguish anger.

“Is it too much to ask that Filipinos show compassion and love to their fellow Filipinos? No one can deny that, if we attain peace, the standard of living in the Bangsamoro will rise. And when one region rises, so too does the entire country. Indeed: peace is the only path to our aspirations of inclusive growth.”

“On this day, God willing, may we be reminded that we have a golden opportunity at present to attain peace, and ensure that the positive fruits of laying down arms will enlighten those who wish to sow chaos.

“God willing, may we remember that a brighter future waits; we need only to strengthen and continue what we have already started. Let us reinforce our trust; let us reinforce our hope; these will be our contributions to an orderly and prosperous society, one that we can be proud of, and one that we can bequeath to the next generations.

“I do not pursue peace just to add to my legacy. What we are pursuing is a genuine peace that truly addresses the roots of the problems that led to violence. At this point in our history, I say to all of you: The BBL will make this a reality,” he concluded. PND (jm)

President Aquino signs Book of Condolences for Lee Kuan Yew
President Benigno S. Aquino III condoled with the people of Singapore as he signed the Book of Condolences Friday for the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who died Monday at age 91.Among those who received the President at the Singapore Embassy in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Scott Loh Chee Heong, the embassy’s Charge d’ Affaires.

The President arrived at the embassy’s multi-purpose hall around 4pm Friday and was ushered in front of the signing table, where a picture of the late Singaporean leader was positioned for a moment of prayer.

“I, along with the Filipino people, stand in solidarity with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the people of Singapore in this time of grieving, as we all honor Lee Kuan Yew, whose steady and efficient leadership and whose bold vision transformed Singapore into the city-state that it is today,” the President’s condolence message read.

Lee, Singapore’s founding father, died at the Singapore General Hospital, where he had been admitted for severe pneumonia since February 5. Lee would have turned 92 this September.

He left behind his sons, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 63, and Lee Hsien Yang, 57; daughter Dr. Lee Wei Ling, 60; daughters-in-law Ho Ching, 61, and Lee Suet-Fern, 56; seven grandchildren and two siblings. His wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, died in 2010 at the age of 89.

Lee is widely regarded as the man most instrumental in shaping Singapore. He and his People’s Action Party colleagues pushed for self-government in the 1950s, worked to merge with Malaysia in the early 1960s, and strived to secure the country’s survival after independence on August 9,1965.

He led a pioneer generation of Singaporeans to overcome a series of daunting challenges that confronted his country from rehousing squatters in affordable public housing, rebuilding the economy after the sudden pull-out of British forces and the oil shocks of the 1970s, and a major economic recession in the mid-1980s.

Lee served as Singapore’s prime minister for 31 years, from 1959 to 1990. At the age of 67, he chose to hand over the premiership to Goh Chok Tong, and took on the role of senior minister, serving as guide and mentor in the Cabinet.

When Prime Minister Lee took charge in 2004, the elder Lee became Minister Mentor, spending time thinking about the long-term challenges facing Singapore. PND (as)