June 22, 2011
European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
A business sector-led Integrity Initiative, which asks members to sign a pledge to say no to bribery and unethical business practices, has won the support of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
De Lima signed her pledge on Friday on behalf of the Department of Justice (DOJ), a move that Peter Angelo Perfecto of the Makati Business Club (MBC) believes will pave the way for more government leaders to join hands with the business community to push the anticorruption initiative.
The MBC together with the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines last year launched the Integrity Initiative, a multi-organization approach to put an end to the culture of corruption in the country, one company at a time.
Other movers of the project are the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Asian Institute of Management, Coalition Against Corruption, and the Management Association of the Philippines.
The DOJ is the first government organization to join the private sector led initiative.
"We've talked to a lot of government agencies and they've been very supportive. The Department of Education has asked all its suppliers to sign the Integrity Pledge. (Finance Secretary) Cesar Purisima has also expressed his support. (Bureau of Internal Revenue chief) Kim Henares even joined our Integrity Run. We're very optimistic," Perfecto said in an interview.
Even while wooing more government agencies to join the Integrity Initiative, Perfecto said efforts to get more private firms on board had not lost steam and had, in fact picked up over the past few months.
To date, a total of 550 companies have signed the Integrity Pledge, he said. They include a good mix of big and small firms, he said.
"We're making a big push now. By Sept. 21, we'll have a much longer list," he added.
The movement will hold an Integrity Summit on Sept. 21, the anniversary of the declaration of martial law in 1972, which ushered in the era of cronyism and high level corruption in Philippine history.
According to Perfecto, a business that signs the Integrity Pledge commits to shun bribery in any form, maintain a code of conduct for employees to pursue ethical business practices, and implement internal systems that will prevent any unethical conduct within their firms.
They also vow to maintain transparent and appropriate financial reporting mechanisms and to allow themselves to be subjected to audit should the need arise. They also commit to eventually enter into "integrity pacts" with government agencies and other businesses, especially in the area of procurement.
One of the objectives of the Integrity Initiative is to eventually formulate integrity standards by which companies will be measured -- a sort of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) that will give qualified firms a seal of recognition.
The goal is to eventually get government agencies to commit to accept only bids coming from integrity-certified companies. This will encourage more companies to sign the Integrity Pledge, Perfecto said.
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday; News; 19 June 2011