Local and foreign businessmen viewed the presence of President Aquino at the first Philippine Integrity Summit on Wednesday as a good signal to the global investment community that it is no longer "corruption as usual" in the Philippines.
"With President Aquino's presence at the first Philippine Integrity Summit and with 12 Cabinet secretaries signing the pledge, it is the clearest indication that this government will not, in any way, tolerate corruption in any form," Ramon del Rosario Jr., Makati Business Club (MBC) and Integrity Initiative chairman, said.
Del Rosario earlier said the national budget bleeds by about P300 billion annually due to corruption. In the property, sector, Felino Palafox Jr., president of the Management Association of the Philippines, said developers are forced to give up P125 per
square meter of the property they are developing for bribes in order to obtain the necessary permits and licenses.
The President delivered the keynote address at the summit held at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.
He promised to sign the Integrity Pledge at a dedicated ceremony in Malacanang after his official visits to the United States and Japan.
Hubert d'Aboville, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and Integrity Initiative vice chairman, said the initiative seeks to improve the tarnished imageof the Philippines, and its success "will greatly determine the interest of companies to seriously consider the country as a good destination for their investments."
"The Integrity Initiative wants to create a collective action against corruption and create fair market conditions by leveling the playing field for doing business in the country. This project has to succeed, otherwise, it will be corruption as usual" d'Aboville said.
MBC and ECCP presented to the President the Unified Code of Conduct, which was launched at the summit and which will become the guide for companies that have signed the Integrity Pledge.
The code of conduct describes how corporate executives and the rank-and-file will uphold the highest standards of ethics in all their transactions. It has a different section for top management, human resources, sales and marketing, finance and accounting, procurement, and logistics personnel.
Close to 700 companies from across industries and with operations from key cities in the country have already signed the pledge. D'Aboville said this could reach 1,000 by the end of the year as "a growing number ofcompanies operating in the Philippines now want to eradicate any form of corruption in their respective businesses."
The Cabinet members who have signed the Integrity Pledge are Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II. Former Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim also signed.
The heads of the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Commission on Elections and the Supreme Court have also signed the pledge.
Source: Business Mirror; News; 15 September 2011