The Manila Times : Concepcion: Unity key to prosperity

By Catherine S. Valente | The Manila Times

PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria "Joey" Concepcion 3rd on Thursday called on Filipinos to rally behind presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., saying a united citizenry "can do wonders for the country and bring prosperity for all."

Concepcion urged the people to seize an opportunity for further economic growth after more than 31 million voted for Marcos, based on the partial unofficial result of the elections.

"Millions of Filipinos, united behind one leader, can do wonders for this country and bring prosperity for all," he said in a statement.

Marcos received the first majority vote for a president since the time of his father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

The number of votes, which exceeded 31 million according to the partial unofficial count of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) transparency server, is almost twice that for President Rodrigo Duterte.

"With such a strong, historic mandate, there is a golden opportunity for successful economic reform, now that both the public and Congress are united behind a single leadership," Concepcion said.

He said this is especially important to the country's micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), who make up 99.5 percent of the enterprises in the country and employ almost 60 percent of Filipinos.

"Many of our countrymen continue to be underrepresented and unheard. Many of them see entrepreneurship as a way out of poverty. It is where industry, ingenuity and grit can get you further than you would as an employee. Entrepreneurship is where people have a fair chance at social and economic mobility. It is a level field, very much like the elections, where a poor man's vote counts as much as a rich man's," he said.

He noted that judging from how the country voted, "it would be safe to say that many MSMEs believe Bongbong Marcos can help them."

When he was interviewed during Go Negosyo's "Kandidatalks" series in the weeks leading up to the elections, Marcos said MSMEs deliver the most impact on society, because any effort to help them will be felt immediately, even by the big corporations.

He said many Filipinos are willing to work and become entrepreneurs, but they will need assistance.

Marcos also acknowledged how organizations like Go Negosyo can help mentor small entrepreneurs, and how the government can allocate a portion of the Internal Revenue Allotment for MSMEs.

He said taxes must be rationalized for the benefit of small entrepreneurs, and believes that agriculture, given support in terms of loans and R&D and infrastructure, can succeed in its role as a foundation of the country's industrialization.

The former senator also promised to continue Duterte's Build Build Build program, and extend its scope to include the information and power infrastructure.

Concepcion acknowledged that the elections were highly charged and some Filipinos became emotional about the results.

"I understand that sentiments are high right now, but this is not the time to be a fragmented nation," he said.

The times have become more uncertain because of the twin problems facing all countries right now, Concepcion said.

The coronavirus pandemic remains unpredictable as variants continue to threaten the population.

The war in the Ukraine, meanwhile, is feared to become protracted and could continue to wreak havoc on the global economy.

"Everywhere there is uncertainty. However we may feel about our new president, we must get our act together, support this government and move forward. It is the wish of more than 31 million Filipinos and we must listen. It would be the responsible thing to do as a citizen," Concepcion said.

He said that "when we fail to unite and we refuse to carry on, we ourselves sabotage our own progress and create a negative perception of the country" and "this never looks good to investors."

"I say this even as my family and the Marcoses have a shared history. With our paths now crossing once more, I believe it is an opportunity for our generation to see how we can finally work together," he added.

Concepcion's father, industrialist Jose "Joecon" Concepcion Jr., was a political detainee during Martial Law, and worked to ensure free and honest elections by founding the election watchdog Namfrel during the 1986 snap elections.

"He saw that the best way forward is to buckle down to work," Concepcion said of his father, who continued to lead one of the country's biggest conglomerates during the Marcos administration and who eventually served in the government several years later.

"Some of our countrymen still sit at the opposing end, but I believe they have something to contribute. For unity to become reality, we must reach out and include everyone. They would expect to be extended the same conciliatory hand had they been the victors in this election," he said.

Concepcion said a majority vote represents the voice of the underprivileged and underrepresented.

"Social media will make sure that those who have access to it will have their voices heard. But we have to listen to those who are truly at the margins of society. That's democracy."

"For many of our kababayans, elections are the only time they can be heard. They have no means to buy airtime, and some can barely write a letter, let alone go online and rant on Facebook," he said. "The people have spoken and let known their decision; it is our duty to respect that, and we must let the new President do his part."