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Statement of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) President Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong on 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), its impact on the Philippine economy & social dev’t.

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Magandang hapon sa ating mga kaibigan mula sa media. Maraming salamat sa inyong suporta.

Good Afternoon to our media friends. In behalf of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), welcome here to our headquarters. Thank you for your support of our economic, socio-civic advocacies in support of Philippine progress. Thank you to our media for your upholding democracy, social peace and the important free flow of information.

In reply to numerous inquiries, allow me to share these thoughts on various exigent issues now facing the Philippines and the world.

On the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV):

FFCCCII supports the Philippine government’s sincere efforts to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV). We call upon the public to remain calm and vigilant, cooperate with government authorities, promote health and daily good hygiene practices, uphold social peace and stability, refrain from spreading unverified information or fake news and any racist defamations harmful to society.

nCoV and its impact on the Philippine economy?

FFCCCII remains optimistic about the economic growth prospects of the Philippines in 2020 ranging from 6.5 percent to possibly 7.5 percent, despite huge uncertainties caused by the coronavirus now besieging parts of the world’s catalyst of economic growth China.

Why the continued optimism? We hope that this nCoV problem of China and the world shall end soon, hopefully like the previous SARS problem of 2003, then the economies of Asia shall surely recover again fast. Many entrepreneurs of the Filipino Chinese community have faith in the vast potentials and resilience of the Philippine economy, and we shall continue to invest and reinvest due to the country’s good long-term potentials, regardless of this hopefully short-term coronavirus problem. Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs are long-term investors and patient, our community has weathered centuries of past ups and downs of the Philippines. The Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” is accelerating in construction projects and these shall modernize the Philippine economy. Sound fiscal, economic and other government reforms strengthen the solid macroeconomic foundations of the Philippine economy, and FFCCCII urges the Philippine Congress to quickly pass the pending CITIRA (the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act) without delay. Another source of high hopes is the Philippines’ demographics of numerous productive young people which is a great economic advantage.

Let us never be complacent due to our yearly positive economic growth. The FFCCCII urges all sectors to work harder and smarter, be resilient and creative, adapt and innovate, in order to sustain the positive momentum of Philippine development regardless of various challenges.

FFCCCII urges government and all sectors to invest and upgrade Philippine tourism facilities during this slowdown in arrivals and lull. FFCCCII urges all sectors, most especially government, to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), local Filipino farmers and SME entrepreneurs and other vulnerable sectors affected during this period of the coronavirus.

Let us be optimistic by hoping for the best, but let us also be realistic by planning for the worst case scenario.

FFCCCII urges Congress to quickly pass the CITIRA BILL

To truly strengthen the Philippine economy, attract more investors and to boost our global competitiveness, the FFCCCII urges the Philippine Congress to decisively and quickly pass the pending CITIRA (the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act) without delay. This proposed bill will bring down from 30% to 20% our Philippine corporate income tax over the span of around 10 years, thus making the country more attractive to local and foreign investors.

Why is the FFCCCII this afternoon of February 6, 2020 at 2 p.m. distributing tens of thousands of free face masks to the public at the entrance of a shopping mall in Binondo, Manila?

Doing charity or philanthropy as a moral duty has been a long tradition of our Filipino Chinese community for centuries based on our Confucian values.

The Filipino Chinese community has quickly and voluntarily been responding to the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) by donating free face masks either as individuals or as civic and business groups, whether young entrepreneurs giving out face masks in the streets of Manila and Makati or community groups donating face masks through our various leaders.

All these face masks donations are expressions of our Filipino Chinese community’s solidarity with all our fellow Filipino brothers and sisters, this is our expression concern for public health and safety of all people living in the Philippines—regardless of whether you are Tagalog, Visayan, Ilocano, Waray, Ilonggo, Kapampangan, Bicolano, Igorot, Moro, Chinese, Maranaw, Tausug, Igorot, Aeta, Lumad, Ivatan or from any other community.

We all live in one place, so we should all be healthy and help each other. We are all passengers in one giant banca called the Philippines, therefore we need to help each other and support each other.

Ang lahat ng mga donasyon ng maskara para sa mukha ay pagpapahayag ng aming pagkakaisa sa lahat ng ating kapwa kapatid na Pilipino. Ito ay mula sa aming malasakit para sa kalusugan at kaligtasan ng lahat ng tao dito sa buong Pilipinas.

Tayong lahat ay mga pasahero sa isang higanteng banca na tinatawag na “Pilipinas”, samakatuwid kailangan nating tulungan ang bawat isa at suportahan ang bawat isa, hindi alintana kung ikaw ay Tagalog, Bisaya, Ilocano, Waray, Ilonggo, Kapampangan, Bicolano, Igorot, Moro, Chinese, Maranaw, Tausug, Igorot, Aeta, Lumad, Ivatan o mula sa iba pang pamayanan.

However, let us listen to the World Health Organization (WHO) which said  healthy people do not need face marks, that face masks are needed only by people with respiratory symptoms or those caring for people with respiratory symptoms. The virus is thought to spread from person to person through respiratory droplets emitted by coughing or sneezing. There is also a possibility the virus can exist in and spread through contaminated fecal matter. There is currently no scientific evidence that the virus is airborne or that it can travel through air across a large room.

The FFCCCII is a business and civic organization. In all our FFCCCII humanitarian charities, we assist people in need regardless of their ethnic, socio-economic and religious backgrounds like in our calamity relief operations, “Operation Barrio Schools” to donate rural public schools or helping fire and disaster victims through our nationwide Filipino Chinese fire volunteer brigades.

On anti-Chinese racism and thanking those who condemn this evil:   

Thank you very much to leaders here and abroad like our Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, New Zealand Green Party politician Golriz Ghahraman,  celebrities like nationalist actor Robin Padilla to actress Pokwang, also organizations like the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) or the Mexican newspaper “La Jornada” for publicly condemning the insidious, evil and most dangerous epidemic of anti-Chinese racism. This scourge of anti-Chinese racism has been triggered by the coronavirus, further amplified and worsened by the misuse of the social media.

We urge the public be socially responsible by not sharing fake news, hate speech, unverified information and racist defamations.  Spreading fake news and racist, xenophobic messages can be more dangerous than the virus itself due to their negative effects of causing confusion, fears, rancor and instability.

Expressing support for Ph. traditional ally & ancient trade partner China

We at the FFCCCII support our Philippine government in their efforts to maintain public health, in the same way that FFCCCII wishes to express moral support and admiration for the efforts of the government and citizens of China to fight against the 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV). China’s sacrifices and efforts to contain the coronavirus protects the rest of the world from an epidemic.

Let us not join some misinformed people in unfair anti-China racist stereotypes and xenophobic attacks, because this important Asian neighbor is the Philippines’ traditional ally and longstanding trade partner for over 1,000 uninterrupted years. In fact, we should give moral support and encouragements to China in their valiant efforts to contain this ailment. Instead of racist attacks by some quarters, we should commend the China government’s transparency, for their remarkable political will and their immense sacrifices of imposing a lockdown on Wuhan City and its neighbors which involve millions of people.

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We at the FFCCCII want the best medical care for all people in the Philippines, because we strongly believe that public health is the foundation of a nation’s wealth and economic productivity.  A healthy population creates economic prosperity.

In the past years, the world has seen several health threats such as SARS, bird flu, swine flu, zika virus, and others.  Let us pray, unite, promote better health and uphold social harmony so that we may overcome the 2019-nCoV threat soonest.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH… MARAMING SALAMAT SA INYONG LAHAT!

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Note: Majority of FFCCCII members are Filipino citizens of Chinese heritage and mostly Philippine-born ethnic Chinese (or sometimes referred to legally as “Chinese Filipinos” which pertains only to Filipino citizens) and the FFCCCII also has a sizeable number of entrepreneur members of good standing who hold China, Hong Kong and other foreign passports, thus FFCCCII uses the inclusive and encompassing geographic or cultural milieu term “Filipino Chinese” for the organization and the community.

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