Economic frontliners of MSMEs & seniors be given priority too, requests FFCCCII

The pandemic has greatly affected businesses, especially those of our member chambers and entrepreneurs. However, we are still doing all our best to extend support to our fellow Filipinos. - DR. HENRY LIM BON LIONG

On behalf of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.,  it is my great pleasure to be part of this Pandesal Forum to discuss vaccines updates and plans, and the state of the Philippine economy.

Our Federation expresses our full support to the government’s national COVID-19 vaccination program and we appeal to everybody to cooperate to ensure the program’s success, because it is important for faster Philippine economic recovery. If we have more vaccines nationwide this year, we are optimistic this shall make this year 2021 the time to revive consumer confidence, rebuild businesses and again restore our Philippine economic growth.

Now that the vaccination of medical frontliners and uniformed personnel has started, our Federation would like to request the IATF to also allow the vaccination of our country’s economic frontliners such as entrepreneurs with their employees and workers nationwide, most especially the MSMEs.

MSMEs comprise 99.5% of business enterprises operating in the country and they generate 62.4% of the country’s employment.

They are the most affected by the pandemic and having a vaccination program for our economic frontliners would give confidence to restart and further opening up of businesses. As the backbone of the Philippine economy, they play a big role in reviving our economy amidst the pandemic, and in restoring and creating jobs.

To show our support for vaccination and to help the government, our Federation has plans to acquire 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines for economic frontliners.  This civic project shall be financed by voluntary donations of our more than 170 Filipino Chinese chambers and trade organizations nationwide. This civic project of our Federation will not cost a centavo to our government and will in fact lessen the burden of government.

(Our Federation had  also earlier joined the “A Dose of Hope” program of Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion to secure some doses of vaccines from AstraZeneca.)

As we face COVID-19 and its challenges, the Filipino Chinese Community Calamity Fund---which is spearheaded by our Federation and 11 Filipino-Chinese associations---has last year raised 300 Million Pesos worth of medical supplies, relief goods for affected communities, rice packs, face mask, face shield and PPEs for our health workers and frontliners. We also contributed to the Philippines’ biggest testing center at the Philippine Red Cross in Port Area, Manila.

These medical supplies and food relief packs were distributed to provinces, cities, municipalities, hospitals and barangays from Luzon, Visayas to Mindanao.

The pandemic has greatly affected businesses, especially those of our member chambers and entrepreneurs. However, we are still doing all our best to extend support to our fellow Filipinos.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global warfare  that we must win.  We may have lost some battles - economic battles - in the past few months; but looking forward, what’s important is we’ll win the war.  In this war, the entrepreneurs are like the generals of armies, as head of their respective businesses.  So, we must also inoculate them as well as our employees.

Since we have preference for Sinovac which is developed using traditional ways, we are also requesting the IATF for the re-examination of Sinovac’s emergency use authorization (EUA) for the seniors or elderly ages 60 and above. Many of the Philippines’ top active entrepreneurs and even leaders of our Federation, like me are, senior citizens.

There have been numerous and well-publicized Sinovac vaccinations of people above the 59 age limit such as Brazilian football legend Pele who is 80 years old; Indonesian Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, 78 years old; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 67 years old; and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, 63 years old.

Many of our Federation officers who are entrepreneurs and philanthropists are seniors too and they are very hardworking and very active. And so, we hope that this restriction would be lifted so that we seniors in the business sector could be vaccinated, so that our entrepreneurs could continue to take risks, invest and help in Philippine economic recovery.

To follow the examples of our government leaders and doctors who publicly received the Sinovac vaccines, I and the top officers of Federation are willing to be publicly vaccinated to promote better public awareness and confidence.

Another senior citizen, Pope Francis has urged everyone to be vaccinated and he mentioned that people have a moral obligation to receive the COVID-19 vaccines to protect not only their own lives but those of others. We at FFCCCII believe it is our moral obligation to not only be vaccinated, but to come out in public to help our government to promote public acceptance of vaccines.

Indeed, we can only win this pandemic if we unite ourselves, and think of what’s best for our fellowmen.

Let’s not spread the virus of division. Instead, let’s spread hope, optimism and unity so we can start our Philippine economic recovery soonest and continue moving forward.

Magtulungan tayong lahat upang suportahan ang ekonomiya ng ating bansa para sa mas magandang kinabukasan para sa lahat ng ating  mga kababayan. Suportahan natin ang programa sa bakuna ng ating gobyerno. Buhayin natin muli ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.

 

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