Company execs also guilty of graft, says poll
Posted: 11:55 PM (Manila Time) | Jul. 05, 2004
By Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Inquirer News Service
LOOK who's talking.
While business leaders have been quick to condemn government officials for graft and corrupt practices, a landmark survey of chief executive officers and senior managers conducted by the Asian Institute of Management-Business and Social Research Desk and the Social Weather Stations showed that a number of them were just as guilty.
Titled "CEO Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Corporate Misconduct," the paper presented Monday by principal researcher Ned Roberto showed that while the majority of the 96 CEOs and top management officials surveyed found it wrong to tamper with company records and financial results, almost one out of four respondents said it was not "always wrong."
The respondents were randomly chosen from among members of eight associations, including the AIM Alumni Association, American Chamber of Commerce, Financial Executives Association, Management Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Almost one out of two of the CEOs surveyed said it was not "always wrong" to overstate company assets in order to get a loan.
Many CEOs also had no qualms about digging into the personal and private lives of competitors in order to get ahead. Sixteen percent of the respondents said it was "wrong only sometimes" and 6 percent found nothing wrong with it.
About 14 percent found it "wrong only sometimes" to keep the public in the dark about something wrong with their product. Five percent said it was "not at all wrong."
About 15 percent of the respondents were open to taking advantage of suppliers by purposely not paying on time. Thirteen percent said it was "wrong only sometimes" to look for a loophole to allow them to award a contract to someone they favored even if a winning bidder had already been named.
The survey also showed that most senior executives saw extending favors as "a wise political capital investment."
For instance, 41 percent of the respondents found it either "wrong only sometimes" or "not wrong at all" to donate to foundations of well-known powerful people with whom they would eventually have dealings.
Most CEOs said it was wrong to fix bidding requirements to favor friends or relatives. Only 5 percent found it only wrong sometimes and 6 percent saw nothing wrong with it.
Six percent of the respondents said it was "wrong only sometimes" to leak out preferred prices so that supplier-friends could come up with a low quotation. Another 6 percent said it was "not at all wrong."
Almost three out of five CEOs surveyed preferred to look the other way when faced with misconduct or wrongdoing among rank-and-file employees.
This indicated the Filipinos' attitude against whistle-blowing, which holds true even among the most senior executives, Roberto said.
Almost four out of five CEOs considered the purchasing department as the most prone to corruption, followed by accounting and finance, and sales and marketing.
Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Lilia R. Bautista said the results of the survey were a cause for concern because these tended to indicate that the "moral fiber of private corporations are as equally weak as those in government."
Bautista added that "whistle-blowers should come out of hiding and not be an ostrich" to help prevent corruption in the private sector.
Former Internal Revenue Commissioner Rene Bañez said the survey backed the results of an SWS study conducted from November last year to January this year. According to the polling firm, only 35 percent of its respondents said all companies in their sector issued the right receipts, while only 21 percent said industry players kept only one set of books of accounts.
Only 15 percent said that they paid the right taxes.
Bañez said this indicated that the government sector did not have the monopoly on corruption. "The limelight and billing are shared by the private sector," he said.
However, Juan B. Santos Jr., chair of Nestlé Philippines, took exception to some of the conclusions in the latest survey, saying it was wrong to generalize.
As the results of the survey showed, Santos said most of the CEOs did find most of the questionable practices as "always wrong," but conceded that graft, corruption and malpractices existed in the private sector. With a report from Elizabeth L. Sanchez