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PIA Press Release

Business, not politics, is the core focus, says Cebu chamber

Cebu City (15 February) -- "It's business as usual," (in Cebu) is the claim made by an official of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) as opposition and other militant groups planned to stage a big protest rally this afternoon on the streets of Makati against the Arroyo Administration due to the National Broadband Network (NBN) scandal.

CCCI vice president for external affairs Teodoro Locson made this remark in response to the Senate inquiry on the NBN case which has gripped the country these past days.

Locson said the political scandal creating too much noise is a "national happening" which has "nothing to do with business."

In a recent PIA forum that tackled the issue on federalism, Locson was asked whether the latest political issue will drag the economy down to which his reply was "If we start to become affected by what is happening in Manila, then we might as well stop working."

Locson narrated that in a recent gathering where CCCI officials met with prospective foreign investors, a question was raised on how the Senate hearing would affect the business climate. The businessman replied that in Cebu, the business community is focused on further enhancing the business atmosphere so more investments would come in and more businesses will grow.

In Cebu, cause-oriented groups will stage a multi-sectoral and ecumenical prayer at Fuente Osmeńa circle this afternoon in support of Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada Jr. as they demand for the truth behind the aborted NBN deal. The prayer gathering is organized by Akbayan, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Akbayan Youth, Center for Participatory Government, Fellowship for Organizing Endeavors, Movement for the Advancement of Student Power among others.

The church-based Dilaab Movement however, will not be joining today's activities but is initiating a 'Mass for the Search for Truth' on Monday in support of the call of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines for the truth regarding the NBN issue to come out.

Locson said there is no reason for them to join or sympathize with such an action. Economic incentives by the government are already in place to attract investors and unless these are taken, then that is the time that we will react, according to Locson.

Regional Development Council (RDC) Committee Chair on Development Advocacy Ricky Poca likewise, said the political noise is just limited to Manila and that it is not a sentiment nationwide.

Poca said the Senate hearing which is supposed to be 'in aid of legislation' puts a dubious mark on the process because after the hearing, the case usually does not prosper just like the other case hearings previously conducted by the upper chamber. It is better for the issue to be settled in the proper courts, Poca further said.

Cebu has always been identified as an Arroyo turf with majority of the local politicians allied with the President and the business community also very supportive of President Arroyo's programs.

The CCCI meanwhile, is intensifying the promotion of Cebu as an investment center of the country as it embarks on its annual huge event dubbed Cebu Business Month (CBM) slated this June under the theme 'Converge in Cebu.'

The CBM aims to give specific focus on three major industry sectors this year namely information and communication technology, small and medium enterprises and tourism. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]

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