Making the dream of a corruption-free Philippines come true

By Abigail L. Ho for Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ocotober 31, 2010.

However difficult it may be to swallow, the Philippines is perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

According to the latest Transparency International global corruption index, the country continues to be in the “highly corrupt’’ category, ranking 134th out of the 178 countries included in the index. In Asia Pacific, the Philippines occupies the 26th spot out of a total 33 economies.

But it is not too late to make a positive change. The Aquino government has six years to make good on its promise to drastically reduce, if not eradicate, corruption in the country. Given the current situation, however, this is quite a tall order. Impossible even, if government will be expected to do the job alone.
This is why various business groups have decided to help make this dream of an almost corruption-free Philippines come true.

Late last year, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club banded together to launch the Integrity Initiative, a four-year initiative that aimed to ensure integrity and good corporate governance among local businesses.

The Integrity Initiative urges local businesses to commit to exerting efforts to stamp out corruption in the country. It aims to identify issues that relate to integrity and transparency in business transactions, develop a Business Code of Conduct, create an Industry Integrity Pact that provides certain measures and controls to ensure integrity and transparency in business transactions, establish an audit and certification program for local firms, and institutionalize this entire process to promote long-term sustainability.

Since the initiative’s launch, ECCP executive vice president Henry Schumacher relates that around 170 companies “have pledged to run their business with integrity.

“Our focus is on the (chief executives). It’s not just about signing the pact, but walking the talk. They should have zero tolerance for bribery, and realize that long-term sustainability is better than short-term profit,’’ he says. “If you have integrity, you pay the proper taxes, do the right thing. The next step is to engage government. The Philippines can move up the Corruption Index if (these initiatives) can be done.’’

Ethical procurement

The Procurement and Sourcing Institute of Asia (Pasia) has also initiated a program that goes along the same lines as the Integrity Initiative, but is focused specifically on companies’ procurement activities.

The group is pushing for the certification of companies in the area of ethical procurement, similar to the recognition that the Institute of Corporate Directors bestows on companies that score high on its annual Corporate Governance Scorecard. The ICD ranks publicly listed companies’ performance vis-a-vis a set of corporate governance criteria. (read more)

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