Is It or Is It Not MBC's Stand?

This is from a column written by Butch Castillo in the Business Mirror. MBC's yellow ties run deep. Oftentimes, MBC represents political interests more than business interests. The much bigger Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is the group that really speaks for the business community.

Is it, or is it not, MBC’s stand?
Written by Butch del Castillo / Omerta
MONDAY, 07 DECEMBER 2009 22:58

This is Cory Aquino with MBC president Ramon del Rosario. Del Rosario was one of the people who gave a eulogy in her funeral mass.

"Martial law bad for business—MBC.”

Thus ran the headline across four columns of the second-biggest front-page story in the Manila Bulletin’s Sunday (December 6) issue. Upon reading it, I was instantaneously irritated.

What? How could even such a politically partisan group such as the Makati Business Club (MBC)—which claims to speak for big business—come out with such an ill-advised stand, I asked myself. This was even before proceeding to read the news item itself.

I know the MBC to be thoroughly anti-Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Not only that, it has come out in open support of Noynoy Aquino’s presidential bid in the current campaign. Countless times it has objected to, and often severely criticized, practically her every official act. This group, which claims to be the voice of “many” of the top 1,000 corporations in the country, has been unabashedly and even rabidly pro-Noynoy and anti-anybody else.

Ordinary folk don’t really give a damn whatever the MBC’s political preferences are for the simple reason that they don’t believe the MBC speaks for the entire business sector. In fact, there is basis in the popular belief that those who comprise the MBC comprise the minority in Philippine business.

Right now, there is a clear dividing line between the very vocal old-money businessmen (whose ranks are diminishing, by the way), and the quieter but more financially powerful new-money businessmen “with one-syllable surnames.” In a face-off between the MBC and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, for instance, who do you think would have a stronger, more influential voice? Let’s face it, it is the latter that has risen in financial clout over the past few decades to gigantic proportions. The members of the federation now actually dominate the bulk of trade and commerce in this country.

The big difference, of course, is that they are less flamboyant than the denizens that make up the MBC. They generally prefer to talk less and take political sides in the safe and proven way—very quietly, but more “substantially.”

And now comes the MBC describing as “bad for business” the government’s decision to impose martial rule in a province where lawlessness prevails. The statement tries to leave the impression that it speaks out the sentiment of Philippine business itself. But unwittingly, perhaps, the MBC has only succeeded in demonstrating its rabid political partisanship on an issue (the massacre) that has angered not only the rest of the nation but the entire world as well.

I remember the time when the MBC commanded more respect when it was founded back in the early 1980s by a handful of respected pillars in the business community—among them, Enrique Zobel, Cesar Buenaventura, Jaime Ongpin (all deceased), Rogelio Pantaleon, Bernardo Villegas, Washington Sycip and Jaime Zobel de Ayala. In Buenaventura’s first-person account of those days (which was shortly after Marcos had lifted martial law but retained “sweeping decree-making powers”), there was a need for the business sector to speak out in a single, solid voice “not to lobby for its own corporate sectoral interest, but to support or oppose policies which affected national life.”

Back in those days, the MBC was full of noble intentions. Buenaventura wrote: “But unlike the habit of the day, it simply was not enough to sit back and complain, it was felt that to be relevant, we should be constructive in our criticism.” Thus, he said, “the MBC was born—as a forum for constructive ideas.”

When I finally got to read the Bulletin news item itself (I had needlessly worked myself up over the headline that made me believe the MBC was against martial law in Maguindanao), I realized that the views expressed were wholly those of Alberto Lim, MBC executive director. His views on martial law, the story said, were given “in his personal capacity.” Realizing that I had been misled (by the headline) into forming a negative opinion of the MBC only made matters worse.

The officers of MBC should tell Lim to shut up unless he is expressly authorized to voice the group’s collective sense on any national issue. He’s not doing the MBC any good by opening up so freely without consulting the organization.

I vaguely remember Guillermo Luz, Lim’s predecessor. He, too, was spokesman and executive director of the MBC. After a while, he became a very controversial figure. Too controversial, in fact, they had to let him go.

* * *
Makati Business Club admits Gibo is better than Noynoy and Villar:

From Business World, February 19, 2010:
THE COUNTRY’S premier business group yesterday said administration bet and former Defense secretary Gilberto "Gibo" C. Teodoro, Jr. of the Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) has presented clearer goals and plans of action compared to other leading presidential candidates.

Alberto A. Lim, Makati Business Club (MBC) executive director, said after the MBC general meeting that in contrast to Liberal Party (LP) bet Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" C. Aquino III and Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Senator Manuel "Manny" B. Villar, Jr., who previously presented themselves to the group in separate occasions, Mr. Teodoro "pointed out specific programs, specific goals and specific time lines to achieve such goals. He’s very articulate... we think he’s very good."
(Gloria Arroyo is the only "issue" they have against Gibo, and it's a non-issue for a lot of other people. In the Business World article, the Makati Business Club official actually said Gibo had a "clean and unblemished" image.)

* * *
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) speaks:

At the presidential forum of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) on February 16, 2010, this was the feedback (reported by Philippine Star):
PCCI vice chairman Donald Dee said “as usual Gibo (Teodoro) was most impressive.”

Speaking to reporters after yesterday’s presidential debate, Dee said Teodoro’s platform and answers stood out against other aspirants who attended the forum.

The PCCI panel, composed of representatives from various business organizations, was also reported to have been dazzled by Teodoro’s performance.

The panel was composed of Miguel Varela, chairman emeritus of PCCI; Alfonso Uy, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry; Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation; Edgardo Lacson, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines; Jesus Pineda, chairman of Philippines Inc.; Eusebio Tan, president of the Management Association of the Philippines and Gregorio Navarro, president of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines.

Ortiz-Luis criticized the stand of Aquino on fiscal prudence. “I have never agreed with fiscal prudence. We should spend in accordance with our growth targets. We have to expand our economy,” Ortiz-Luis said.

* * *
Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) speaks:

Gibo is also the choice of the Filipino-Chinese business community. See the report of Manila Bulletin, February 5, 2010.
Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro Jr. is best to be at the helm of the country in times of national crises, a key leader of the Filipino-Chinese business community said Friday.

At the first council meeting of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), Alfonso Uy, FFCCCII national president, said Teodoro’s extraordinary crisis leadership typifies the spirit of Filipino-Chinese volunteerism that is geared at mitigating the effect of disasters on peoples' lives without media fanfare and mileage.

“That is extraordinary leadership, when you do something good without expecting public adulation in return,” he said.

Teodoro was welcomed warmly by an enthusiastic gathering of the influential FFCCCII, which has 170 member-organizations nationwide.

Uy said that Teodoro, the assembly’s guest speaker, has been an active partner of the FFCCCII in the chambers’ activities in the latter’s capacity as chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) until November of last year.

"During relief operations for typhoons Frank and Ondoy, we saw how effective, methodical and hardworking a crisis manger Secretary Teodoro is," Uy told the meeting to resounding applause by participants.