PNoy urges traders, public to help promote integrity in governance
ECONOMY, GMANews Online
By: Amita O. Legaspi
September 14, 2011
Boasting the result of his administration’s effort toward transparency in the government, President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday urged businessmen and the public to take a more active role in governance and promote integrity.
“As we continue fixing what is wrong with government, I urge you to stand alongside us and do your part," Aquino said in his speech at the 1st Integrity Summit held in Pasay City. “This will not be easy, but if we work on it—if we choose not to shirk our responsibilities as individuals—then everybody will get the message and act fast and accordingly."
He said the collective desire to instill integrity into the respective communities does not end with a pledge of integrity. “We are now obliged to live up to this pledge," he said referring to the Unified Code of Conduct for Business launched during the event.
Aquino admitted that taking part in the Integrity Initiative will not be easy and “cannot be measured immediately in pesos, centavos, but its benefits will eventually redound to everyone."
Aquino noted that it is tempting to pay the collector a fraction of what a company owes in taxes instead of the proper amount, but he warned that his administration is running after tax evaders, smugglers and corrupt government officials.
“Since July 2010, a total of 61 tax evasion cases and 43 smuggling cases have been filed with claims totaling around P26 billion and P54 billion, respectively," he said, adding that the campaign against tax evaders and smugglers is “paying off."
“From January to July this year, revenues collected already increased by 13.47 percent year-on-year," Aquino said.
He said that in the past, some could have justified not paying taxes by saying it would have been used to fatten the wallets of corrupt officials. “But as we strive to show you that that is no longer the case, I hope we can urge our fellow citizens to pay their share of taxes."
The President further said that when he goes to the United States next week, he would tell the Open Governance Summit and representatives of other countries that the private sector and the government help each other in promoting integrity in governance and creating a transparent relationship between the people and the government.
He added that his administration worked to foster a culture of integrity in the government by appointing people with unquestioned ability to important government post. As examples, he mentioned Leila de Lima as Secretary of Justice, Grace Tan and Heidi Mendoza to the Commission on Audit, to Conchita Carpio-Morales as our Ombudsman.
Aquino said his government also cut funding for wasteful projects and putting the money to things that will benefit Filipinos the most. “Efficient spending has allowed us to allocate a larger chunk of the budget to social services and defense—two sectors that have, for so long, lacked sufficient resources," he said.
He also noted that the Department of Budget of Management has mandated all national departments and agencies to publish important budget information and finance and performance indicators on their respective websites.
The Department of Interior and Local Government also required all local government units to disclose, on local bulletin boards, newspapers, and websites, how they spend their funds.
He further said that his administration engaged the civil society organizations in preparing the proposed 2012 national budget.
The Aquino government also created a layman’s version of the 2011 national budget to allow more people to understand how the government is spending their money.
The Department of Finance, on the other hand, launched a website called Pera ng Bayan, through which common citizens can file anonymous reports or leads on possible tax evasion, government collusion, or smuggling operations.
“All of these we have done to promote integrity," Aquino said.
The Integrity Summit, with the theme “Cultivating a Culture of Integrity in Business and Beyond," brought together local and global corporate leaders, anti-corruption experts, and senior government officials to present global trends in ethics compliance programs, as well as concrete ways to strengthen ethical business practices in the Philippines.
It was aimed to gather experts and authorities to present ways on how to strengthen ethical business practices and institutionalize them so that “business with ethics" becomes the country’s norm, rather than the exception.
It was the first conference to be organized in the Philippines along this theme. It also analyzed global trends in the fight against corruption and how countries stack up in this battle, and will provide industry and company-specific initiatives in keeping corruption at a bay.
The Summit was organized by the Integrity Initiative -- a nationwide, private sector led campaign that institutionalizes common ethical standards among various sectors of society. The Initiative was implemented by the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), in partnership with the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), and the Asian Institute of Management-Hills Governance Center (AIM). — KBK, GMA News