The Philippine Chamber of Industries, the militant association of Filipino manufacturers, has substantially advanced the cause of nationalist industrialization in the Philippines. Its leadership has been enlightened and highly educated and surprisingly less than rightist. It was the most powerful voluntary organization in the country until martial law. I was privileged to have served as its executive secretary. Later I rose to be its President.
The past presidents of the body decided to meet this evening. When I entered the Hilton Hotel at about 7:20, Larry Henares immediately met me and said in a loud voice, “Hey, why are you out? Why are you not in the stockade?”
I told my fellow past presidents of the Philippine Chamber of Industries there gathered that I have not really been arrested; I am only under surveillance. Jules Francia interrupted me: “Then why are you here? Why should you put us in danger?”
I was jolted by this gruff greeting.
Don Fernando Sison, former finance secretary, and Tony Delgado, our Mr. Hilton, joined us. “Here is a man who can tell us many things,” they said upon seeing me.
Almost every past president of the PCI was present. Among those who could not make it were Marianing del Rosario, Joe Marcelo, Bert Villanueva and Don Emilio Abello. The theme of the discussions was—what is expected of businessmen, professional managers and capitalists under the New Society?
Victor Lim opined that the uncertainty lies in that while businessmen are expected to expand their enterprises and to provide employment, it is only natural that they will be among the remaining few “filthy rich,” considering that landowners are already gone because of land reform. What happens when these entrepreneurs become rich, will the government run after them?
Don Fernando said that actually President Marcos’ book, Today’s Revolution: Democracy, is socialistic in orientation. He agreed with me that the main theme of the book is to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in the country.
Tony Delgado kept on suggesting we should support this by providing more employment to our people and by opening business up to public ownership.
Ting Jaime countered by saying we should not be general or vague, but rather definite and specific. Are we willing to really open up our businesses for public ownership up to 60%?
Tony Delgado suggested that we should broaden the base of ownership. Ting thought this was a little too general. He pressed the question of whether or not Tony would be willing to sell 60% of his interests.
Vic reminded us that the question of what entrepreneurs are supposed to do has not been adequately answered. Larry explained that the concept of entrepreneurship, under the New Society, will no longer be similar to entrepreneurship in a laissez-faire society where the capitalist gets unlimited rewards for his efforts. Here, it is expected to contribute to society and not be primarily motivated by profit.
After all the long perorations, the suggestion of Tony Delgado was (1) for us to try to police our own members in the PCI so as to fulfill our social responsibilities; (2) for us to consider some internal reorganizations such as that being proposed by Ting Jaime, namely, that the different industries form themselves into sectoral groups, i.e., all textiles people into a textile association; all food industries into a food industry association, etc., with these associations affiliating with the PCI; and (3) a manifesto should be written of our support of the plans and goals of the New Society. The goals have been set for us and what is now expected of us is to show our support in concrete terms.
The draft manifesto is to be worked out by Ting Jaime, Vic Lim and Larry Henares.
This was quite a pleasant gathering. We had not seen each other for a long time. I sensed a feeling of closeness among us.
In the middle of the spirited exchanges, Larry Henares suddenly blurted out: “The most quiet man in the room is Caesar Espiritu… because he is in the ‘list.'” All eyes turned towards me.
Why does the whole world think that I am in the “list”? And who prepared this fearsome list?