Private sector corruption
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER
By: Ramon R. del Rosario Jr.
January 15, 2011
ASK ANY gathering of Filipinos what's wrong with our country, and corruption surely tops the list. We blame corruption for our lack of development, for our high level of poverty, for our inferior infrastructure, for our poor education and social services, for our being laggards in a region where we used to excel.
When candidate Noynoy Aquino ran on a platform that declared, "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap," many of us cheered and embraced him as our candidate. And now that he is president, we are filled with optimism and hope.
As I said in a recent speech, I believe we are in a unique moment in our nation's history. We have a President with a clear mandate who enjoys our trust and confidence. He has organized a government that is credible and competent. We are back on the radar screen of local and global investors. Our economy is showing strength and resiliency, with high growth and low inflation. Congress appears to be in a cooperative mood. Real reform in many sectors seems achievable. Genuine progress toward a better life for Filipinos may be within reach.
As we well know, moments like this do not come often. Neither can we assume that they will remain very long. We must seize this moment and do all we can to move our country forward. And I mean now!
I am a great believer in the idea that we in the business community have a critical role to play in the building of our nation, and at no time has this role been more critical than now. We play this role of course by investing in our country, creating jobs and running our businesses efficiently and competitively. But I believe we should do this, too, by taking concrete initiatives that address some of our society's ills. And among these, none is more pervasive and destructive than corruption.
As we continue to demand that government cleanse its ranks, it is high time we did the same in the business community. Corruption, after all, is a two-way street, as there can be bribe-takers only when there are bribe-givers.
It is in this context that the Makati Business Club, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the Management Association of the Philippines, the Asian Institute of Management, and the Coalition Against Corruption have launched a determined and intensive campaign to reduce private sector corruption. We call this our Integrity Initiative, and we invite all business establishments -- large, medium-sized or small, Filipino or foreign -- to join us.
As a first step, we invite the chief executibes of participating companies to execute an Integrity Pledge that is based on the following premises:
- that corruption has been eroding the moral fiber of Philippine society and is one of the biggest impediments to economic growth and prosperity in our country;
- that CEOs and their companies have a responsibility to lead by example by operating ethically and with integrity; and
- that while the government has its own initiatives for reducing corruption, these cannot succeed without individual and collective commitment from businesses to do their part.
With the foregoing promises, the CEOs then pledge the following:
- To prohibit bribery in any form in all activities under their control and ensure that contributions, gifts and sponsorships are transparent and will not be for the purpose of attempting to influence recipients into an improper exercise of functions, duties or judgement;
- To maintain a code of conduct to guide employees toward ethical and accountable behavior at all times and to apply sanctions for violations;
- To conduct training programs for employees to promote integrity, honoesty and accountability in the exercise of duties and responsibilities;
- To install appropriate internal systems and controls to prevent unethical conduct, ensure good governance and institutionalize integrity and accountability;
- To maintain appropriate financial reporting mechanisms that are accurate and transparent;
- To establish channels by which employees and stakeholders can raise ethical concerns and report suspicious circumstances in confidence without risk of reprisal;
- To enter into Integrity Pacts with other businesses and with government agencies when dealing with contracts for construction projects and the procurement of supplies, materials, equipment and services; and
- To refrain from engaging in business with parties who have demonstrated unethical business practices.
In addition to these individual commitments, the CEOs commit to undertake collective action that will include a nationwide initiative to create fair market conditions, transparency in business transactions and ensure good corporate governance; sharing of "best practices," tools and concepts; developing a unified "Business Code of Conduct"; and support for the development of an audit and certification program for companies implementing ethical practices in businesses.
We are very pleased with the enthusiastic response of the business community, with over 300 firms of all sizes already signed up. We are also encouraged by the intial response of the Department of Finance which has indicated not only a desire to be an active partner in this initiative but also its willingness to give favored treatment in government transactions to companies that execute the Integrity Pact.
Join us in our Integrity Initiative today!
(Interested parties may contact Peter Perfecto at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. is the chairman of the Makati Business Club. Please send your comments to email@example.com