Business groups’ activism | Inquirer Business


Several reputable business organizations in the country had recently aired their views on some important issues of the day. And rightly so.

When Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered the dismissal of the top executives of the Manila International Airport Authority for illegal reassignment of employees, the Makati Business Club, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., Employers Confederation of the Philippines and other business groups called on him to reverse his decision.

They cited the executives’ exemplary performance in improving the operation of the country’s premier international gateway.

Instead of filing a motion for reconsideration, the executives had questioned the validity of their dismissal at the Court of Appeals for lack of due process.

When the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat) issued revised departure guidelines for Filipinos traveling abroad starting Sept. 3, the PCCI, the country’s largest business organization, asked for their suspension for being draconian and unnecessary.

With the Senate joining that plea, the Iacat indefinitely suspended the implementation of those guidelines.

It’s refreshing to see the pillars of the country’s business community publicly speak their minds on governance issues that affect the economy.

During the Duterte administration, some of those business organizations were quite restrained in their comments on issues that may raise the hackles of the former president or his fair-haired economic advisers.

Recall that then President Duterte was not averse to using derogatory words or threatening to “weaponize” the law against business executives who were not in his good graces or otherwise did not belong to the circle of businessmen who contributed generously to his election campaign.

Since many of the business people who were not the apple of the eye of the former president are active members of those organizations, it made good business-cum-political sense for some groups to refrain from rocking the government’s boat.

This approach was more critical for those engaged in businesses that were highly regulated or otherwise depended on government cooperation for their profitability.

It took a lot of financial and reputational risks to ignore the mantra “you cannot fight City Hall.”

What a difference a year makes.

The first year of the present administration had shown that President Marcos does not share his predecessor’s “adversarial” attitude toward the business community.

It helped that at the beginning of his term, Mr. Marcos had created a broad council of business executives that could advise him on economic issues of national consequence.

Since the majority of the members of those business organizations represent businesses that have a substantial impact on the economy, their comments on significant issues of the day deserve serious consideration by the concerned government officials.

Unlike some grandstanding politicians, their public statements had not been issued at the drop of a hat or to gain publicity for something that had drawn public attention.

Those who have participated in drafting those statements can attest to the fact-checking process and meticulousness that accompany their preparation. It is not unusual for the statements to undergo several revisions before they are released to the media.

And that should be the case because any errors in their content (grammar included) would reflect badly on the organization’s leadership and, worse, may even raise questions about the motives behind their issuance.

In these challenging times, it would be apt for the country’s business groups to take to heart the saying “noblesse oblige,” i.e., to those much is given, much is expected. INQ

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