Davao Roundtable Discussion with SMEs
“Yung first meeting, there were so many problems, concerns on corruption, ‘pag (ihalintulad sa) color siguro, parang black ang color. Ngayon, maraming colors na, may nakikita na tayong kahayag or light, there’s hope” (During our first meeting, there were so many problems and concerns on corruption. If compared to a color, it seems to be black. At present, there are more colors, we are now able to see light, there’s hope), Isidro Porras relates his experience as a previous project participant and his observation of the present conditions.
This insight was shared during the event, “Cultivating a Culture of Integrity: A Roundtable Discussion (RTD) with SMEs” in the Grand Men Seng Hotel, Davao City on October 20, 2015. This RTD is the last among the series of discussions with Integrity Pledge signatories and previous training participants of the project, “Promoting Integrity and Accountability in Business Project”Phase IIIatories and previous training participants o Private Enterprise in Washington, D.C.
SME owners and/or managers as well as business associations in Davao attended the event. SME participants represented businesses in agricultural production, food industry, trucking service, medical service, security agency, printing service, heavy equipment, real estate and trading. Cooperatives and associations representatives also attended the activity, such as the Philippine Export Davao, Davao Inventorsfood industry, Federation of Cooperatives in Mindanao, Philippine Institute of Certified Accountants-Davao and Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Project Partners also graced the event, particularly the College of Business Administration Education of the University of Mindanao and the Department of Trade and Industry Region XI.
The discussion revealed that SMEs have already implemented several measures to resist corruption and uphold integrity. Some of these efforts include encouraging of whistleblowing, instigating code of ethics, establishing a reward system and practicing “no envelopes” policies. Furthermore, participants explained that unconstructive Filipino values, lack of commitment from the SME management, unreasonable taxation and lack of transparency continue to hinder SME efforts towards integrity. On the other hand, comprehensive values formation, training and monitoring, and freedom of expression legislation are endeavors to facilitate an anti-corruption agenda. The government’s role in streamlining business processes and continuously educating SMEs of changes in business regulations is also necessary in curbing corruption in the private sector.