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His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the oath-taking ceremony of the Newly Elected Officers of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, Inc. and ceremonial turnover of two Classroom School Buildings
[June 5, 2013]
Thank you. Good Morning. Please sit down.
Secretaries Greg Domingo and Mar Roxas; Senator Frank Drilon; Senator Ed Angara; Dr. Alfonso Siy; Mr. Tan-Ching; Dr. Robert Sy; Officials of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCII), fellow workers in government, honored guests; ladies and gentlemen:
I have always found it especially auspicious that the induction of your new officers coincides with the turnover of more classroom units under the FFCCCII’s Operation: Barrio Schools project. To me, this symbolizes your pledge to the government and, more importantly, to the Filipino people—not only to contribute to economic growth through your businesses, but also to help empower our countrymen by investing in their future.
With more than 9,000 classrooms constructed all over the country since 1961, the FFCCCII has opened doors of learning—and consequently, of opportunity—to so many of our students. This tradition of giving continues today, with your turnover of approximately 80 million pesos in pledges, which will be realized through the construction of 400 classrooms, or 200 school units. I am also told that, in celebration of your 60th anniversary next year, you are granting four-year scholarships to 60 high school graduates pursuing a degree in Education. On top of building classrooms and sending children to school, I know that you are also supporting volunteer fire brigades; donating to disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts; and fostering healthy minds in healthy bodies by means of your medical and dental missions. Once again, let me express my deepest gratitude: to sha din long tsong. Kumpletuhin na rin po natin: Maraming, maraming salamat po.
It is always encouraging for those of us in government to see businessmen going above and beyond what you would expect from an ordinary citizen. For our part, we are doing our level best to forge an environment that is even more conducive to business. I am sure the results have not escaped your notice: The Philippines is now rated investment grade for the first time in history by, I believe, three major credit rating agencies. Our economy grew by a remarkable 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013. Add to this countless other indicators of economic growth, and you have a situation where even greater prosperity is within reach.
And even as we invest in infrastructure and institute reforms that level the playing field, we continue to channel the hard-earned money of our taxpayers into health, education, social services, and other initiatives to empower our countrymen—making them true, productive contributors to the continuing cycle of opportunity and progress. I am very optimistic that we will be able to sustain these initiatives, especially since our economic resurgence is granting us greater fiscal space to pursue our agenda of social and economic inclusiveness.
Let me make it clear: We are all for your success, which we know leads to the expansion of your businesses and the creation of more jobs. At the same time, as you continue to reap benefits from our economic revival, I hope that you will also be more willing to share the fruits of your hard work—not only through your philanthropic activities, but also by setting the good example as citizens who fulfill their obligations on time and by the book. It is my hope that as you continue to give generously, you also take to heart the civic duties and responsibilities of every Filipino. This is what will allow our already-strong partnership to flourish in the years to come.
You have some of the most powerful and most prosperous businessmen in the country as your members. Add to this a readiness to lend a helping hand to your countrymen. As Dr. Siy said earlier, with this combination of means and initiative, your Federation has the potential to play an even greater role in building a Philippines that is truly a wellspring of opportunity for all. Today, as we witness the beginning of another chapter in the history of your organization, it is my deepest hope that we can continue working together and building on each other’s achievements in order to foster a culture of shared prosperity and empowerment in the Philippines as true partners do.
Congratulations to your newly elected officers. More power to you all. Thank you, and good day.