SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - More than 150 executives from various locator-companies and investors in this free port signed the Integrity Pledge on Friday, marking another significant milestone for the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in its fight against corruption.
In a ceremony held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC), SBMA officials led by Chairman Roberto Garcia administered the Integrity Pledge (IP) for representatives of investor firms here in support of President Aquino's reform agenda and to strengthen the agency's corporate governance initiatives, and create a more conducive investment climate.
"Good governance means good business, and we have seen the fruits of good governance," said Garcia stressed during the ceremony.
"Aside from being a good corporate citizen, companies that sign this pledge will get certain perks given to clean and ethical companies," Garcia pointed out.
He added that the SBMA's Integrity Program has been endorsed by the SBMA Board of Directors through a board resolution last year.
The Integrity Pledge, which was introduced in the country by the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), is a document signed by heads of companies and government agencies to express their commitment to abide by ethical business practices and to support a national campaign against graft and corruption.
The pledge is regarded as an effective tool aimed at preventing corruption in public contracting, as it enables companies to abstain from bribing by providing assurances that their competitors will likewise refrain from bribery.
At the same time, it enables the government to reduce the high cost and distorting impact of corruption on private procurement, privatization or business licensing, and issuance of permits.
The IP stipulates rights and obligations to the effect that neither side will pay, offer, demand or accept bribes, collude with competitors to obtain contract, or engage in such abuses while executing the contract.
Garcia said that SBMA has institutionalized IP in the Subic Freeport with the creation of a Code of Conduct for all employees and officials of SBMA. With this development, the SBMA will now also require stakeholders like Freeport locators, neighboring local government units (LGUs), and suppliers to sign the Integrity Pledge before any transaction is made.
Garcia praised the Bureau of Customs (Port of Subic) Collector Arnulfo Marcos for joining the IP signing and for being the first to submit his accomplished and signed IP form.
Meanwhile, in his address, Dr. Edilberto de Jesus of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), said that of the hundreds of companies nationwide that applied and were assessed by the Integrity Initiative Office, only 33 had passed and only 12 were given Integrity Pledge certifications.
"Integrity is not easy to find these days," De Jesus said. "What we have done today is the first step towards a fairly long journey. While the process is very difficult, it is the right thing to do and it should be done."
In closing the ceremony, SBMA Deputy Administrator for Business Joy Alvarado urged the locators and investors to "start in your heart and in your own office the practice of Integrity Pledge."
"Fight corruption; start the integrity revolution and see how you will shine as days pass," Alvarado added. (30)
Ayala Harbor Point manager Derrick Manuel presents a signed Integrity Pledge to SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia during the mass signing ceremony for Subic Bay Freeport locators at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center on January 30. Looking on are SBMA Deputy Administrator for Business Joy Alvarado, Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce president Rose Baldeo, and Dr. Edilberto de Jesus of the Asian Institute of Management.