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Chinese businessmen vow to press ahead with pro-poor social projects

MANILA, May 21 - The Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of
Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), the country's biggest organization
of businessmen of Chinese heritage, vowed today to pursue its
multi-faceted pro-poor social welfare projects in support of government

John Tan, newly-elected FFCCCII president, said that in the "next two
years, we will continue with our social welfare projects, including our
scholarship programs, medical missions and disaster relief operations."

Tan, who succeeds Francis Chua as FFCCCII head, affirmed his
organization's commitment during the oath-taking ceremony of the group's
new national officers - all 143 of them - before President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo this morning in Malacañang.

The new officers were elected during the federation's 26th biennial
convention held in Manila last March 30.

Tan told the President that FFCCCII would "give our continued support to
you and your vision for the Philippines, the vision for a modern country
founded on social justice and enjoying economic prosperity."

Aside from John Tan, the other FFCCCII officers who took their oath before
the President were Lucio Tan as FFCCCII's chairman emeritus; and outgoing
FFCCCII president Francis Chua, honorary president.

Also elected as honorary presidents during the March 30 FFCCCII convention
were Domingo Lee, Yao Eng Hue, Jimmy Tang Vicente Yu, Sr., John Ng, and
Robin Sy with Tan Tian Siong as executive vice president.

Alfonso Uy, Alfonso Siy, Henry Lim Bon Liong, Tan Ching, Angel Ngu, and
Domingo Yap were elected federation vice presidents, while Lorenzo
Cabilangan and William Gosiaco were elected treasurer and auditor,

In his speech, Tan thanked the President for her graciousness in allowing
members of the business organization to take their oath "at the very seat
of government."

During the occasion, Tan turned over to the President a check worth
P1.25-million for the purchase and construction of an additional 50
Tindahan Natin convenience stores to be set up in various parts of the

The new donation to the Tindahan program brings to 175 the number of
stores donated by the organization to the Arroyo administration since last
year at a total cost of P3.125 million.

The Tindahan Natin chain of convenience stores is a project of the
government being implemented by the National Food Authority (NFA) and the
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide easy access
by residents of depressed areas to low-cost basic commodities including
coffee, rice, sugar, instant noodles and bread.

Aside from the P1.25-million check, the FFCCCII also presented to the
President a scale model of the 430 new school buildings, or a total of 860
classrooms, that the organization will donate to the government over the
next two years.

The school buildings are part of Operation: Barrio Schools Program
launched by the federation way back in 1960. Under the program more than
3,800 schoolhouses have already been constructed all over the country.

Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, who was also present during the
Malacañang affair, urged the FFCCCII officers to "call" on the country's
new leaders elected in the May 14 midterm election "to sit down and to
focus on the economy."

"We have three years remaining in the present administration and we owe it
to this generation and future generations to come that we need (to leave
them with) a good legacy and a solid Philippine economy," Favila said.

"So regardless of party affiliation, it would help us if they (members of
the FFCCCII and the business community) send a message across (to all
political leaders) to end the divisiveness" generated by the May 14
balloting," he added.

"Magsama-sama na tayo para sa magandang kinabukasan ng ating bansa."

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