PCCI is the voice of Philippine business recognized by government and international institutions. As a proactive catalyst of development, PCCI promotes and supports the drive for globally competitive Philippine enterprises in partnership with government, local chambers, and other business organizations.
The main responsibility of PCCI is to provide focused advocacy for business growth and sustainable development by providing business services for the advancement of grassroots entrepreneurship, chamber development, international trade relations, business innovation and excellence, and operating efficiency. These will be achieved through a professional organization working in close cooperation with various stakeholders in public and private sectors.
To operationalize its MISSION and VISION, PCCI adopts the following strategic thrusts:
- Steadfast suppot for the promotion and growth of micro, small and medium enterprises nationwide;
- Pioneer policy reform initiatives to improve the business climate and sustain socio-economic development;
- Spearhead national and international networking through business matching, trade misisons, and information sharing;
- Support capability building for local chambrs and industry associations.
HISTORY OF THE CHAMBER MOVEMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES
The early 1800s brought Manila at the heart of mercantile development. The Spanish government opened the City to foreign merchants after the failure of the Second Royal Company of the Philippines that used to trade between Manila and Cadiz through the Cape of Good Hope. The old policy of isolation and monopoly in trade was finally abandoned. With foreigners given extended trade privileges, and eventually the right to permanent residence, Manila become a city bustling with trade and commerce.
Cargo vessels crisis-crossed Manila’s Port. By the 1830s, the Philippines began to export hemp, sugar tobacco, and indigo in ever-increasing quantities. The country’s overseas trade flourished.
Commercial activity by the Pasig River thrived as traders from different parts of the archipelago converged on the river and exchanged goods aboard their watercrafts, making this body of water the market place for local business.
To promote business interests, a group of Spanish businessmen formed the Camara de Commercio de Filipinas on April 19, 1886. The three largest Spanish companies in Manila---La Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Migiel, and Elizalde y Cia – founded the Camara primarily to “settle petty disputes between merchants.” Not many accounts on the member companies of the Camara were available, except that their businesses range from manufacturing tobacco, sugar, liquor, and rope, among other ventures.
La Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, for instance, was founded by Don Antonio Lopez y Lopez in Spain in 1881. The oldest tobacco dealer in the world, the Tabacalera was the first Spanish trading company to be quoted in the stock exchange of both Madrid and Barcelona. It was set up in the islands by General D. Lope Gispert y Garcia-Tornel to “cultivate, process, and export” Philippine tobacco to the Spanish Tobacco Monopoly.
From tobacco, the company ventured into sugar mills, abaca and copra handling, alcohol distillery, and even coastal traffic. With the growth of its Philippine operations, the Tabacalera put up the world’s biggest cigar factories in La Flor dela Isabela in the Ilocos region. Don Enrique Ma. Baretto de Ycaza’s La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel started out as a single product brewery on Sept. 29, 1890. Housed at No. 6 Calzada de Malacañang in Manila’s San Miguel district, the company’s first batch of 70 employees produced what was widely considered Asia’s best-tasting cerveza.
Like the Tabacalera, La Fabrica later diversified, offering food and beverage products under the management and ownership of Don Andres Soriano y Roxas and his heirs.
Elizalde y Cia has vest interest in companies such as Elizalde Rope Factory, Inc., Elizalde Paint and Oil Factory, Inc., Manila Steamship Co., La Carlota Sugar Central, tanduay Distillery, and Pilar Sugar Central.
Business at that time was dominated by Spain.
An uprising broke out in 1896 and Filipino revolutionaries defeated Spain. But the country did not totally gain its independence from colonial rule. Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States during the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898.
Patriotism spilled into the local business community. The popularity of La Camara began to wane and a new organization led by Filipino and Chinese mestizo businessmen was formed on July 19, 1903.
That day, huddled inside the old Manila house of Don Juan Rodriguez on Vives Street in San Nicolas district were 22 Filipino merchants and industrialists. There were the likes of Don Ricardo Aguado, Don Tomas Arguelles, Don Ariston Bautista, Don Telesforo Chuidian, Don Manuel Cuyugan, Don Rafael del Pan, Don Pedro de Roxas, Don Vicente Fernandez, Don Bernardino Hernandez, Don Luis Hidalgo, Don Faustino Lichauco, Don Mariano Limjap, Don Francisco Reyes, Din Rafael Reyes, Don Juan Rodriguez, Don Rogaciano Rodriguez, Don Vicente Samoza, Don Ramon Soriano, Don Tomas Sunico, Don Ignacio Syyap, Don Miguel de Velasco, and Don Teodoro Yangco.
These 22 men established the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CCP), a welcome relief to businessmen anxious about the future with the fall of Spain and the arrival of the Americans.
On that same evening, acting president de Velasco emphasized the CCP’s reason for being. Each member had the responsibility to generate “positive assistance” to one another and in the process “ accelerate the pace of business in the country,” he explained.
Fifty years later during the CCP’s golden jubilee celebration, its former president Antonio de las Alas recalled how the Filipino chamber movement lived up to its goals and filled the “void among Filipino businessmen.’’
No less than Taft had described the chamber movement as “the best evidence to disprove the claim that Filipinos were not interested in business.”
During Taft’s administration, the CCP demanded the removal of the 1897 Dingley Tariff provisions that discriminated against the local sugar and tobacco, then the country’s biggest exports. The American policy had raised export tariffs to as high as 57 percent, making the playing field more difficult for the local businessman.
Don Ramon Francisco Fernandez, CCP president from 1918 to 1919, recalled the early struggle of the organization in a July 10, 1954 letter to CCP president Teofilo Reyes, Sr. “I shall remember the first bitter days during which there was a strong opposition from those who were going to be affected by the organization of the chamber, going to the extent of proposing the dissolution of all the chambers and merging their elements into the Manila Merchants Association (MMA),” he wrote.
The MMA invited the CCP to be part of the organization to create a “common front” of the business sector.
In the event the merger was finalized, the CCP would become a party within the MMA. The CCP acceded on the condition that “no determination would be final unless a unanimous vote could be mustered, so that whenever the interests of the Filipinos might be invaded by a resolution or a determination, the representative of the Chamber of Commerce might impose its veto.”
The MMA disagreed. It lost the CCP.
The CCP, however, never lost its resolve to improve the local business sector in the face of a volatile political and economic landscape. It helped that it gained the active participation of even more prominent businessmen:
Don Maximo Rosales, Don Catalino Arevalo, Don Julian Syyap, Don Jose Paterno, Don Mariano Zamora, Dr. Maximino Paterno, Don Felix Gonzales, Don Jacinto Limjap, brothers Ireneo and Bernabe Felix, Don Geminiano Arguelles, Don Islao Quemalay, Don Crisanto de los Reyes, Don Jose P. Katigbak, Don Doroteo Cortesm Don Luis Yangco, Don Gonzalo Tuason, Don Benito Legarda, Don Jose Infante, Don Enrique Barrera y Caldes, Don Juan Tuason, Don Marcelino de los Santos, brothers Manuel and Tomas Earnshaw, brothers Esteban and Felix De La Rama, brothers Ramon and Manuel Genato; Don Ramon Ongpin, Don Hilarion Sunico, brothers Alejandro and Venancio Reyes, Don Vicente Arias, Don Alejandro Roces, Don Martin Ocampo, Don Pedro Cruz,Don Arcadio Arellano, Don Jose de Garchitorena, Don Leopoldo Kahn, Don Mariano Lim, Don Julian Salgado, Don Crisanto Lichauco, Don Manuel Lopez, Don Jose Lim Chumbuque, Don Tiborcio Ilagan, Don Ramon Syyap, brothers Fernando and Enrique Zobel, Don Jose Guevarra, Don Francisco Coe, Doña Amalia Arcega, C. Sellner, Don Vicente Reyes, Don Mariano Cuyugan, Don Gregorio Agoncillo, Don Alejandro Albert, Don Arcadio del Rosario, Don Serafin Vallecruz, Don Angel Heredia, and Pedro P. Roxas.
Well-known business establishments joined the CCP: La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel, Tuason y San Pedro, La Estrella del Norte, Abreu, Newbury and Reyes bank, Union Farmaceutica Filipina, Hidalgo, Cuyugan and Co., El Varedero de Manila, and Manila Earnshaw and Co.
The CCP’s success attracted more and more businessmen, including foreign firms. To accommodate them, the members amended its by-laws, while the MMA, the group that had wanted to place the CCP under its fold, was soon dissolved.
The newly established CCP, in contrast, grew even larger but with the same commitment that had brought those 22 merchants in the San Nicolas house, that evening in 1903.
In the early 1900s, the CCP was behind the campaign to encourage consumers patronize locally-made products. Filipinos then were enjoying barely a decade of profuse patronage of mostly American commodities. The prevailing attitude then was that locally manufactured products were inferior to imported goods in terms of quality.
Anything American-chocolates, milk, biscuits, clothes, music, literature, and what-have-you-was considered the standard of quality.
The challenge was to make Filipinos buy products made by fellow Filipinos. It wasn’t a cinch to help change the mindset of a nation stricken with colonial mentality. Nevertheless, the CCP was at the forefront of the campaign to promote Philippine products. After all, the advantage of Filipino businessmen was the accessibility of raw materials in the country. The Philippines then was the primary source of sugar, hemp, and many other raw materials found in nature.
Patriotism in business
In 1919, the CCP blocked attempts for free trade between the Philippines and the United States. The CCP soon found allies in no less than Manuel L. Quezon and the National Assembly.
Quezon and the assembly argued that free trade posed a great threat on the economic interests of the country and might ultimately hamper Philippine independence. It would also cut government revenues and consequently, public services, they added.
The CCP saw that a free trade set-up would certainly cause a deluge of American companies in the country and thus make American capital the absolute owner of the market.
The limited available capital of the Filipino businessman amidst the commercial competition in the Orient, however, convinced Chamber president Vicente Madrigal that American investments are needed to assist in developing the Islands’ commercial resources.
“America needs, if she wants to ‘play the game’ in the Far East, a storage place for her products and manufacturers, and nothing could be more suitable to her for this purpose than the Philippines,” Madrigal said.
At that time, several American banks had set up their branches here, such as the Asia Banking Corp., American Foreign Banking Corp. and International Banking Corp., the oldest American banking institution in the country.
Meanwhile, the Philippine government together with some Filipino businessmen had financed the creation of the Philippine National Bank “in order to keep the economic development in pace with the (country’s) political advancement.”
In the wake of the campaign to support Filipino businesses and businessmen came the beginnings of the “Filipino First Movement.”
On Dec. 30, 1926, 100,000 copies of a strongly worded appeal were distributed nationwide, urging consumers to patronize Philippine-made products.
The initial indifference of consumers, wrote corner CCP president Antonio de las Alas, only spurred CCP leaders “to intensify their proselytism with such perseverance and tenacity as to gradually succeed in breaking the indifference and infiltrating into the public consciousness the need and advantages of economic protectionism.”
Because of the movement’s promise, it wasn’t long before the CCP replaced its Comite de Proteccionismo Economico with the National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA). Benito Razon was elected NEPA president. This move on Nov. 19, 1934 was to give birth to the yearlt observance of the “Made-in-the-Philippine Products Week,” an activity both the government and the business sector would continue to adopt to this day.
With the NEPA in place Filipino businessmen had the leverage in both the import and export trades that foreign hands once had. This culminated in the passage by Congress of a law Filipinizing the retail trade and restricting the rice and corn trade to Filipinos only.
Soon, the campaign would gather even the support of educational institutions. “the youth of the land should be taught in the early years of their lives to give preference to locally made goods, so that when they advance in years, this teaching would be firmly embedded in their hearts,” de las Alas wrote.
In 1939, the Commonwealth government of President Quezon signed the Anti-Dummy Law, which penalized Filipinos who allowed themselves to serve as fronts for foreign businessmen.
The following year, the Immigration Law was passed, seting an annual quota of 500 the number of quota immigrants allowed to enter the Philippines.
In the 1950s, the late statesman Sen. Claro M. Recto led the assault against the prevailing disposition that foreign investments were the only means to improve the national economy, then still reeling from the ravages of the brief Japanese occupation.
Carlos P. Garcia later adopted the popular “Filipino First” policy soon after he assumed the presidency in 1957. The CCP promptly adopted the policy.
Rumors circulated that the policy was meant to antagonize Chinese and American businessmen. President Garcia countered, explaining it was but “a struggle for the natural right of the Filipino people to be supreme in their own country.”
In the meantime, a burning issue involved the Bell Trade Act, the trade arrangement considered by many Filipinos viciously counterproductive to local businesses.
Approved in 1946, the act was to expire in 1954. The next 20 years was supposed to be a period for quantitative gradual reduction of some Philippine exports and the gradual application of American tariff on other local products.
The CCP observed that Philippine economy was still very dependent on America. About 72 percent of total exports in 1950 were for the American market. Americans, in turn, flooded with impurity the local economy with mostly luxury items. The result was disastrous, the CCP noted: a dwindling dollar reserve that undermined the Philippine peso. But local businesses focused on finding solutions, not blaming anybody, especially the Americans.
In resolving the Bell Trade issue, the CCP proposed that the transition period provided under the trade agreement be spent as a period of “selective free trade” between the two countries. The hope in the long run was a new trade arrangement that would ensure a prosperous and stable Philippine economy.
All these efforts by local businesses were a testament of that fervent desire to keep the local market independent but never aloof. A Philippine economy that would forever be Filipino.
TRIUMPH AFTER THE WAR
After the war, Filipino businessmen were not disheartened by devastation. There was hardly hopelessness in the face of spent lives and opportunities. There was only resolve to build and build again until the country got back on its feet. Until Filipinos got their pride back.
At the forefront of a massive economic rehabilitation program was the CCP, which together with the administrations of presidents Manuel Roxas and then Elpidio Quirino, outlined strategies toward national recovery.
“Our problems of today are problems common to countries that felt the terrific impact of war,” said Aurelio Periquet, CCP president after the order are, therefore the major tasks confronting us today.”
At the forefront of a massive economic rehabilitation program was the CCP, which together with the administrations of presidents Manuel Roxas and then Elpidio Quirino, outlined strategies toward national recruitment.
“Our problems of today are problems common to countries that felt the terrific impact of war,” said Aurelio Periquet, CCP president after the order are, therefore the major tasks confronting us today.”
At the First Annual of Cooperative Executives, Periquet stressed on the need to focus on increasing local production to lessen the country’s dependence on foreign commodities.
His successor de las Alas later reinforced this principle, explaining that one effective way to cut cost was to use local raw materials for production. “It will not be dreaming or wishful thinking to expect that all or the greater portion of the raw materials required by our industries can be produced or found in the Philippines,” he said.
De las Alas’ effort soon gave birth to a massive campaign that actively encouraged Filipinos to patronize local products over imports.
Said Teofilo Reyes, chair of the 5th Annual Convention of Filipino Businessmen: “Independent as we are now, our people are the same economic slaves that they had been in the past, without full control of their economy, and without control of their foreign and domestic trade.”
True enough, there was an apparent imbalance in Filipino-American trading during the 10-year period ending in 1941, local businessmen bared during the convention.
About 68 percent of Philippine exports were shipped to the United States, while the Americans supplied a whopping 82 percent in total imports.
Cornelio Balmaceda, then commerce and industry secretary, found the “anti-American” sentiment quite weak.
The country was cut off from its foreign export market, and agricultural production came to a standstill, and when, at the same time, the flow of necessary imports from the US ceased, the whole country was thrown into a desperate situation,“ he recalled.
With the country’s dollar reserves and foreign exchange badly depleted, the government put up measures to address the trade imbalance.
Periquet lauded the resolution of the government to improve international reserves and unevenness in the balance of trade. “In a way, the import and exchange controls, limiting as they do the supply of our necessities from foreign sources, affords us timely opportunity to give our best efforts to producing as much as the articles of consumption that we need.”
He added: “The application of trade controls to meet the existing emergency has resulted in the recessive trend of trade in the country. However, we have been able to improve the position of our foreign trade.”
Assessing the condition of Philippine business in the first half of the ‘50s, Balmaceda noted that the country’s foreign trade position had improved due to the measures and restrictions to trade.
“Another significant development has been the change in the composition of our import trade,” he said. “the proportion of raw materials the capital goods to the total imports increased from 32 percent during the first six months of 1949 to 55 percent during the first six months of 1950.”
Some of the resolutions approved during the 1951 national convention of Filipino-businessmen in Baguio reflected the usual concerns brought up by businessmen in other business congregations that followed.
These included diverse resolutions from infrastructure to the primary concern of improving domestic and foreign trade such as resolutions urging the repair of and construction of roads in Mindanao, irrigation, drainage and flood control.
There were also resolutions, regulating the employment of alien labor, recommendation of proportionate distribution of imported goods in the different ports of entries and reconsideration of the import control’s commission decision to grant priority licenses previously approved.
More specifically, there were also resolutions requesting the Central Bank of the Philippines to exempt from the assessment of 17 percent excise tax on imported items like flour, milk, drugs, and medicine and other essential commodities.
Moreover, there were some resolutions that echoed the unanimous sentiments of CCP members such as the one that supported the 17-percent excise tax on the sale of foreign exchange, and to support the stand of the government regarding the payment of Japanese reparations.
Even with the different resolutions arrived at in every convention organized, CCP, like in all its undertakings, reminded each delegate that the gathering was meant to develop Philippine commerce for the benefit of more Filipinos. “The new industries to be established should aim not only at supplying our domestic market to make us more self-sufficient by supplanting old imports but also at selling to foreign markets,” Balmaceda said. “The next urgent need of our export trade for its fuller development is to find and develop new foreign markets besides that of the United States.”
The need to maintain foreign trade relations was given attention but the independence of a free nation was not forgotten.
“We must not by our inaction and carelessness lose by default the many economic opportunities open to our people and allow them to fall one by one in the hands of aliens, for if we do, we shall one morning wake up to see this God-give country no longer ours to enjoy and treasure; that we are strangers in our own land; that our role in our own economy is not that of architect and builder but that of hewers of wool and drawers of water,” Reyes said.
TOWARD THE INDUSTRIAL AGE
The country’s once largely agricultural economy lay in ruins after the Second World War. The most logical move, it seemed, was to rehabilitate this once thriving sector. But the one tasked to lead this rehabilitation had other plans.
Hilarion Henares, Sr. was appointed by then president Manuel Roxas to head the Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Corp., the body established by the president in 1946 to lead the massive recovery.
Henares, the famed inventor, wanted to steer the country toward an “industrial age.”
His crusade began the following year when he encouraged Jose Bernabe and Bill Obligacion to join the government in organizing local industrialists and entrepreneurs at the most crucial stage of the country’s development. In 1948, his efforts started to bear fruit as he and less than 20 others established the Small Industries and Machine Shop Owners of the Philippines (SIMSOP).
With Henares as president, forming the new set of officers of SIMSOP included Bernabe as vice president, Jose Tiosejo of Sugeco as treasurer, and Tomas Parpana as auditor. Its directors were W.W. Donnelly of Atlantic Gulf Pacific Co., B.B. Sever of Sta. Mesa Machinery and Daniel Rodriguez of Mayon Engineering.
Henares took on the role of government spokesman for its agenda on Industrial Revolution.
But the new agenda to bring the country to the industrial age seemed shady. Having been an agricultural economy, the Philippines was largely a raw material supplier to the West that had evolved earlier into an industrial society manufacturing goods on mass-production scale.
The large quantities of goods manufactured in foreign countries later brought into the Philippines have gravely depleted the country’s foreign exchange reserves. During that time, colonial mentality was widespread giving consumer favor towards Western-produced commodities over Philippine-made products. A reaction to this was the government’s institution of controls on imports and foreign exchange transactions in 1949. On January 2 of the same year, Executive Order No. 195, proclaiming import controls, signed by President Quirino on Dec. 30, 1948 took effect.
These were the days of the Import Control Commission, which distributed dollars on the basis of historical pattern. Within this scheme, old-time importers were given more dollars to import finished goods than the new industrialists who were given dollars for the import of raw materials. But the importers were mostly American firms, and the industrialists were mostly Filipinos.
SIMSOP, by then was composed of 200 members, held its first national convention on March 4, 1950, with the theme “Intensified Manufacturing and Solid Support for Basic Philippine Industries.” It was during this convention that Gonzalo Puyat, the “Dean of Filipino Industirlaists,” urged the SIMSOP to change its name to Camara de Industria de Filipinas or the Philippine Chamber of Industries (PCI).
Five days after, a new set of officers led the PCI with Henares Sr., still taking the position of president, Jose P. Marcelo as vice-president; Jose Tiosejo as treasurer; Dominador Ambrosio as executive secretary; and Gonzalo Puyat and Mariano Yanko of Standard Chemical, and Indalecio Elago as directors.
A New Chapter
SIMSOP then became known as PCI. The group continued its advocacy for Philippine-made products through educational campaigns aimed at altering the centuries-old colonial mentality, and eventually fostered the interest of Filipinos to become manufacturers and entrepreneurs ready to take risks by investing huge capital in new industries.
To achieve that, the PCI first crusaded against the widespread smuggling of consumer goods whose importation had been banned by the controls set up in 1949. Although the restrictions on imports of consumer commodities were aimed at generating manufacturing industries designed to meet the needs of the domestic market, some took advantage of the government’s generous allocations of foreign exchange for raw material and capital equipment imports.
Before it could produce a new class of aggressive entrepreneurs and industrialists, the government was beset in the first year by the emergence of aggressive smugglers who brought in large quantities of foreign-manufactured goods to satisfy the cravings of consumers who had bias against made-in-the-Philippines products.
Still, even the government-owned and led firms posed a threat to the development of new industries. In the case of the food processing industry, the government-led National Marketing Corp. (Namarco), which was supposed to stabilize prices of essential commodities, heavily imported milk, flour, and canned goods. Since Namarco was exempted from import taxes, it could afford reduce prices lower than its competitors in an unfair trade.
But PCI showed strength with the leadership of Roberto Villanueva in the mid-fitties. He led PCI in a protest declaring that several imported goods violated provisions such as the anti-dumping act, which later prompted Namarco to back out of huge drug importation. Villanueva also piloted the nuy-out of American-owned corporations in the country like the Manila Electric Company or Meralco and Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Company of Manila.
Moreover, the PCI was not only active in fighting below-the-belt competition and pushing Philippine-made products. To encourage more Filipinos to put up risk capital; for new industries, it sought means to generate incentives for prospective investors.
Efforts aimed at this began during Marcelo’s term as PCI president from 1950 to 2952. The organization campaigned endlessly for relief from burdensome government levies while financial assistance was extended to factories that were hard-put to operate. PCI obtained liberal credit from the financing institution then known as the Rehabilitation Finance Corp., a government lending body that was later converted into the Development bank of the Philippines. It granted needed long-term credit for manufacturing projects at interest rates lower than going commercial terms.
Also in the ‘50s, there was a deluge of incentives such as an array of tax exemptions for the import of capital equipment needed for factories, raised tariff rates on locally manufactured products, and tax relief for imported raw materials for the first five years of manufacturing operations. The increased protection and high profits attached to these incentives convinced domestic manufacturers to put assembly line or packaging operations for imported goods.
This paved way for the emergence of import-substituting industries in the country, thus more plants were intent on taking a piece of the generous foreign exchange allocations available to those industries.
At this point, the PCI sa that something was wrong with the industrial growth of the economy. It noted that the country was not producing export-oriented industries since most firms only substituted imports or exports only raw materials but not finished products entirely manufactured in the country.
In 1962, Hilarion Henares, jr. became president 12 years after his father, Henares Sr. who led the organization into advocating the opening of export markets. During his term, a huge purchase by Indonesia of a $1-million worth of local flour, paper products, pharmaceutical, and reinforcing bars – represented the first exportation by the country of finished industrial products on a large scale.
Henares Jr. actively campaigned in moving the country’s economy forward through close coordination with the government and the private sector, pushing the state to guide industrial investments through fiscal incentives and preferential treatment.
The Necessity of a Union
The year 1970, according to PCI president Julio Francia, Jr., was “ a year of trauma” for the manufacturing industry, “one saw the problems of our manufacturing industries grow from the floating rate, fiscal and monetary mismanagement, absence of an economic leadership, the limited credit facilities for the productive industrial sector, the 50 percent across-the-board marginal deposit requirement for imports of even critically-needed raw materials and capital goods, the labor unrest, the continuous displacement of our own products in our own home market…” he enumerated in an interview by the Sunday Times Magazine on June 6, 1971.
Francia, however, saw that these problems would be eased if the government’s “Buy Filipino” program would be realized as an economic fact and not a mere slogan in recognition of the capabilities of the Filipino laborer and entrepreneur.
In 1975, president-elect of the PCI Raul Boncan had the following as his main thrust: (1.) Working hand-in-hand with the government and other sectoral organizations-its external publics-for the formulation, adoption, and implementation of policies and programs that are geared to generate employment; (2.) Initiate the organization of other sectoral organizations into a confederation so that the private sector have a unified voice; (3.) Provide members with industry benefits from the use of its facilities and services.
This time, a merger of the PCI and CCP was already being encouraged, hoping to give a unified voice to the business community. The CCP composed mainly of traders, manufacturers, individual businessmen, and its provincial chapters, while the PCI comprised of manufacturers and industrialists. Both, however, effectively represented the business sector.
LONG ROAD TO A MERGER
The proposal for the groundbreaking came in the early 1970s from the CCP then headed by Col. Simeon C. Medalla. He knew Philippine business would be much stronger and stable under one organization.
A Senate bill backed Medalla’s proposal, calling for the dissolution of all trade organizations and chambers. In their place would be a private business organization under the secretaries of trade and industry. It was to be called the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).
The proposal also required that all businessmen in the country become members of the PCCI, either through the merger’s affiliated members, provincial chapters, or through direct membership.
The plan initially received cold shoulders from the CCP “old guards”, particularly the group of former CCP president Dr. Wigberto P. Clavecilla.
Promise of the New Society
Then came the declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, which restructured overnight all government agencies into an “action-oriented machinery” directed to achieve economic development soon. Very soon.
President Ferdinand E. Marcos, probably wary of his new policy’s repercussions, made a promise during the induction of the new CCP officers in Malacañang on Jan. 23, 1973.
“The moment the people say the leadership must be changed I will voluntarily step down,” he told the CPP officials. “This is something I have to clarify with you, I have to make decisions that may not satisfy everyone. But I am compelled to do so because it is the burden that I carry.”
Marcos went on profusely recognizing the Chamber of Commerce’s role in economic development even before martial law. The CCP, he claimed, had been crucial in his administration’s decision-making and policy-making and implementation.
“Many of the initiatives that we have undertaken in business have often been started by your Chamber through your elected officers,” he said, insisting that consultations must continue.
“I know when these recommendations come from members of the Chamber of Commerce, they will be recommendations that are well-studied and aimed not merely for the attainment of private and selfish interest but for the welfare of the country,” Marcos added.
The two organizations were not spared the scrutiny of newspapers. Bulletin today, in a July 15, 1975 article “PCI jealousy Still On,” wrote:
“Of late, businessmen have witnessed a keen rivalry between the country’s two national trade chambers: the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Philippine Chamber of Industries.”
It also made an analysis that ever since the PCI was designated to set up “Industry Desks” in 1974, the CCP (then under Dominador Lim) allegedly felt it was being relegated to the background.
On March 17, 1975, columnist Rodolfo Romero wrote in the Daily Express that a union of the two chambers was impossible at the time. “There are times when one must face reality, when one must accept that a particular desideratum just is not likely to materialize within a given time frame, a CCP-PCI merger doesn’t seem to be a bright possibility at this point.”
But what the papers tell were mere intrigues.
Prelude to a merger
As both Chambers became a strong force in the business sector, and their functions and projects overlapped, top officials of both organizations began to entertain the idea of a merger.
In 1975, on a trade mission to Sofia, Bulgaria, according to Boncan, he together with Elizalde and CCP vice president Aurelio Periquet Jr. discussed plans to unify the two chambers into a “single voice of business”.
“I told Fred (Elizalde) and Aureling (Periquet) that since most of CCP’s traditional importers had also become manufacturers and members of PCI, it is time for both groups to merge,” Boncan related.
But the “old guards” of the CCP opposed the idea. It was then that Elizalde and Periquet of the CCP, and Boncan and Petronilo Guevarra (PCI President 1976-77) of the PCI solicited the help of Industry Minister Vicente Paterno and President Marcos to push the union of the two major business groups.
Both organizations conducted separate elections to discuss and decide with their members the possibility of unification.
Although Boncan and Guevarra did not have much difficulty in convincing their members of the “integration” of the PCI to the CCP, the members of the Chamber of Industries still held a referendum at the Hyatt Regency. Some 194 of the 383 qualified voters of the PCI participated in the exercise to finally decide on the merger plans. The vote was 164 for integration and 22 against, while the rest abstained.
As for the CCP, the organization’s officers held series of meetings, which culminated on Dec. 12, 1977 at the Century Park Sheraton Hotel with a general meeting of its members to finally settle the issue on the merger.
CCP vice president Aurelio Periquet Jr. presided over the assembly trying to resolve two key issues. The first issue asked if the Board of Directors would “act or implement the mechanics of the merger and pursue the creation of the CCP Foundation, Inc. and the unification project until its completion.”
The move got the support of lawyers Raul Roco (who later became Senator and Education secretary) and Mike Varela (who became PCCI president in 2000).
The second proposal called on the board to “form with the Philippine Chamber of Industries an Ad Hoc Group to organize a federation of the various chambers throughout the country upon the understanding that the necessary documents, charter, By-Laws, etc. be thereafter submitted to the respective chamber groups for their ratification and approval.”
Lawyers Augusto Martirez and Jose Guerrero supported the second proposal.
When given the chance to speak, Martirez explained that the members should opt for the formation of a federation in order to preserve the CCP. He insisted he was after the welfare of the small businessmen, who were the “new ad emerging forces of the New Society.”
Roco sought the members’ approval for a merger, shorten the existence of the CCP for a greater cause, and convert the organization into a Foundation to preserve its assets and historical name.
Clavecilla spoke in favor of the federation in order to preserve the CCP.
Unification, he said, maybe achieved without dissolving any organization through a federation type of organization. Elizalde explained that the merger of the two organizations would be the first phase of the project to be followed by the expansion of the membership to include organization of regional areas of the country.
The debate ongoing, Department of Industry Secretary Vicente Paterno arrived. He said he had been asked by Marcos to “monitor the progress of the formation of a single voice of business.”
He brought a letter addressed to the Board of Directors of the CCP and a similar letter addressed to the PCI to form a unification of both Chambers.
According to Paterno, there was a need for the CCP and PCI to merge to have an organization, which would enable small businessmen, especially those in the rural areas, to have a voice in the formulation of national economic policies.
“To have a Federation of existing organizations is against the tenets of the New Society which try to give equal opportunity for all,” he claimed. “A Federation of existing organizations is a perpetuation of the status quo and therefore, I, personally have recommended against it.”
“Here is the opportunity for the Chamber of Commerce to unite with the Chamber of Industries to get back to the position you were in the 1930s, the nucleus and the recognized single voice of business,” he said in closing.
Of course, the intervention of MAlacañang and Paterno were all pre-arranged with the top officials of both organizations.
Voting came after Paterno left.
The unification of both chambers got a resounding support with 561 votes against 457 that rejected the proposal.
Finally, a merger
After the two groups approved of the unification, 15 charter members from the PCI and CCP were elected to formulate the constitution and by-laws of the newly established PCCI. From the PCI elected were Teofilo Reyes, Jr., Boncan, Jose Policarpio, Remedios Fournier, David SyCip, Mariano del Rosario, Ireneo Obligacion III, Victor Lim, Augusto Espiritu, Jose Marcelo Sr., Hilarion Henares Jr., Ricardo Guevarra, Edgardo Villavicencio, Cesar Sison, and Felix Maramba. From the side of the CCP, charter members Emilio Abello, Sixto Roxas, Roeto Benedicto, Ernest Khan, Ceferino Follosco, Vic Barrios, Roberto Ongpin, Manuel Lim, Sr., Jose Madrigal, Pio Pedrosa Sr., and Leonardo Ty.
The PCI was dissolved and the CCP was transformed into a Foundation on November 25, 1977 through Resolution No. 122. The Foundation took over the assets of the organization and pursued some of its projects. It was necessary for the CCP to be transformed into a Foundation because if it will lose its building for the government donated the land where it stands.
On July 1, 1978, the PCCI was officially conceived. Its initial funding came from the individual contributions of Charter members, together with some funds from the defunct PCI matched by a counterpart contribution from the CCP. The PCCI for the meantime used the old CCP building for an office.
When the PCCI was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, seven PCI directors and eight from the CCP were its incorporators. The PCI representatives were Petronilo Guevarra, Dante Santos, Rosalinda Antiporda, Raoul Inocentes, Francisco Floro, Mario Alinea, and Antonio Chuidian. The CCP, on the other hand, had Elizalde, Periquet Jr., jose Barredo, Jose de Leon, Charito Planas, Jose Luis Yulo, Jr., Vicente Angliongto, and Eduardo Escobar.
From among these incorporators, 11 were elected in the interim board, which would govern the PCCI until a general election was held. The first PCCI officers were Elizalde (president), Guevarra (vice president), Antiporda (treasurer), Chuidian (acting director-general), Periquet Jr., Santos, Barredo, de Leon, Angliongto, Pedrosa and Inocentes.
The initial direction was to obtain a presidential decree. A proposed charter mandating membership in the PCCI was submitted to the office of the President together with a letter from Elizalde.
“In addition to unifying the various disparate and highly proliferated trade, industry and business organizations, the PCCI will enable the private sector to work closer with the government in the task of national development,” the letter read. “Also, it will provide the entire private business sector with the machinery for self-regulation.”
While the President was yet to give a verdict on the matter, Elizalde called the PCCI board to hold a special meeting to review the stand on the compulsory membership of businesses in the PCCI.
Elizalde thought that the move might imply that the PCCI was a quasi-arm of the government because the automatic membership provision was mandated through a government decree.
After the meeting, the board of directors decided that the proposed set-up could be dangerous under martial law. An alternative proposal was pushed in Malacañang.
On Dec. 7, 1978, during the 4th Philippine Business Conference, the Palace issued Letter of Instruction No. 780 designating the PCCI as “single voice of Philippine business.”
Source: 100 Years of Chamber Leadership (A Who’s Who in Philippine Business)