Businessmen to launch all-out war vs. corruption

by Max V. de Leon, Business Mirror

Posted at Oct 27 2010 01:34 AM | Updated as of Oct 27 2010 05:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Business executives in the country are fed up with the prevailing corrupt practices in procurement and supply management and have lined up a series of initiatives aimed at stopping unethical dealings that have cost businesses as much as 50% of their investments here.

This, according Charlie Villaseñor, president of Transprocure Asia and chairman of the Procurement and Sourcing Institute of Asia (Pasia), who said the two groups will announce their initiatives with the holding of the 1st Philippine Annual Ethics in Procurement Conference on November 3 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Topics in the conference include “Taking Procurement to Higher Efficiency, Transparency and Integrity”; “Business Integrity and the Procurement Profession”; “Best Practices and What the Future Holds on Public Procurement”; “Fraud Detection Techniques/Vendor Integrity”; “Promoting Procurement Integrity Makes Sense”; “Developing and Sustaining Effective Corporate Values and Compliance”; and the “ISM Principles and Standards of Ethical Supply Management Conduct”.

Villaseñor said that depending on the type of industry, he is aware that business cost of unethical practice in the procurement and supply management side even go beyond 50% of the investment.

In his case, he said he receives expensive gifts and “people normally compute it also as an investment. It is very costly.”

Brian Lane of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines said the country also suffers from unethical practices both in the public and private sectors in the amount of foreign direct investments that the Philippines is losing.

“The perception of the Philippines is it is terribly corrupt. But the new government seems to have touched the Filipinos by its slogan, ‘When there is no corruption, there is no poverty.’ I think this is a good time to turn the ship around,” Lane said.

In six years, Lane said he believes the initiatives they are starting now will already be felt, and the Philippines will start improving the rankings of corrupt countries.

Aside from the November 3 conference, Villaseñor said they will also be rolling out several projects that will promote good governance, including keeping a whistle-blowing hot line, a certification program and scorecard system for ethical companies, and circulation of international ethical standards.

Groups such as the Management Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives of the Philippines (Finex), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Joint Foreign Chambers have committed to participate in these initiatives.

Villaseñor said while they will not be identifying unethical companies to put them to shame, they will be constantly releasing to the public the names of firms that have earned the certification of being ethical in their supply-management dealings.

And when they receive reports of unethical practices, Villaseñor said they will bring up the case to the top executives of the companies involved.

“We have to come forward and set the right directions. A lot of people also do things because they don’t know they are unethical,” he said.

Walter Buczynski, senior trainer of Pasia, said the key in making this change to happen is by training the people who are directly involved in the process on a day-to-day basis and make sure that their “day-to-day work is done ethically, and bring it to the levels where decisions are made.”

Greg Navarro, Finex president, said they will also be asking CEOs to sign the “integrity pledge,” and part of this is to educate their people on good governance.

Henry Schumacher, executive vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said the initiatives are consistent with an earlier program of the foreign chambers and the Makati Business Club enjoining companies to adopt the “zero tolerance on bribing.”