It is so pathetic to read about business chambers in a desperate attempt to pressure congress into passing the RH Bill. The other day, under the auspices of the UN population agency and pharmaceutical firms, a so-called international congress to push through family planning was staged in the PICC. The affair was attended by the business chambers, who, apparently, totally endorsed family planning, even promising to put up their own program.
This was headlined by that sensationalistic broadsheet, which is noted for its hysterical top stories on the front page. If the idea was to cow the legislature into passing the controversial bill, it utterly failed. The day after, the story was buried in the inside pages after the president shrugged his shoulders and passed the buck back to the Houses of Congress. Sadly for the organizers, there was nary a whimper from the congressional leadership. The bottom line is that the exercise fell flatter than a pancake with a dull dud!
The lesson to be learned is that these Manila-based Business Chambers, who believe that getting media mileage through developmental journalism has turned them into movers and shakers of Philippine Society, is a myth. Take away the few Taipans that contribute to the upkeep of the chambers and what you have is an empty shell, a clutch of insecure traders hoping that by riding on the coattails of the chamber they could participate in the benefits of regulatory capture. This is a dream because the captains of industry are usually not wont to share any rent derived from their crony ties with administrations.
I know this from the inside having been a founder of the Makati Business Club and associated with most of the trade chambers in the city. Truth to tell these chambers who vowed to underwrite population program the other day cannot even afford decent research staffs to back up their jawboning in press releases.
The fact is Business Chambers will never be as influential as the Hierarchical Church, Trade Unions and even the left and the right. While these organizations have cohesion and coordination and well defined aims, the chambers are vision neutral. Profit making while not evil per se is hardly a vision of development and does not lend itself to solidarity. Indeed it is usually a cause of strife for competing individuals, firms or even associations. Time was when the Chamber of Agriculture clashed head-on with the Chamber of Industries in the days of import and exchange controls.
Finally it is mind boggling to many economists why traders who depend on an expanding market, which is currently the driving force of the economy, is insisting on limiting the number of consumers through birth control. The answer lies in the naïve chambers being hood-winked by a few well-heeled multinational members in the pharmaceutical industry into following their family planning agenda which will reap easily earned billions yearly from the Department of Health!