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MANILA - Amid allegations of impropriety involving one of President Benigno Aquino III's closest advisers, businessmen on Tuesday said the government still has a long way to go in ridding itself of corruption.
"On this DILG faux pas, a lot of work needs to be done. I think this government that has been put in place for two years has given a clear message of integrity. Aquino started with this message six months before election," Hubert d' Aboville, former president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said during the briefing for the 2nd Integrity Initiative.
"And I believe he was elected because of his message, Walang kurap, walang mahirap. The road is going to be bumpy, it's going to be long and it's going to be painful," d' Aboville said.
On Monday, the Philippine National Police said the anomalous procurement of P408 million worth of assault rifles did not push through. A failure of bidding was declared on August 31 for the procurement of 1,500 units of M4 assault rifles worth P178 million.
The botched bidding comes in the wake of the death of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who was investigating such shenanigans in the PNP that according to some media reports involved Undersecretary Rico Puno, who on Tuesday resigned.
Despite such incidents, the ECCP and the Makati Business Club said the Philippines is reaping the fruits of improved governance and increased awareness on the need to foster a culture of integrity in the country. They said this is especially true when the Philippines obtained a credit ratings hike, making it one notch below investment grade.
ECCP and MBC are implementing the Integrity Initiative, a private sector-led campaign that promotes common ethical standards among various sectors of society.
"As of today we have 1,500 companies that have signed our integrity pledge. We have 32 top officials that are members of the government that have signed but signing is one step but it is not enough," d'Aboville said.
He said people should not expect that in 24 months "everybody" in the Philippines will be on board this integrity initiative dubbed as "Matuwid na Daan."
"But we are certainly in the right way," d' Aboville said.
This will be highlighted in the second Integrity Summit on September 18, where newly appointed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will discuss the judicial reforms the Supreme Court will undertake during her 18-year watch.
According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, the Philippines ranked lowest in Asean in terms of having an efficient and independent judicial system.
"As members of the business sector and civil society, and as part of the nationwide Integrity Initiative, we view this as a major threat to the growth of private enterprise and the global competitiveness of the country," the Judicial Reform Initiative said in a statement.
Composed of the ECCP, MBC, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, Institute of Corporate Directors, Philippine Association of Law Schools, and other organizations, the JRI said it is "strictly" enforcing the practice of legal dealings with the courts among its ranks.
The JRI will also tie up with law schools to emphasize legal ethics in their curriculum, assisting ordinary citizens in their legal rights and seeking redress from unjust treatment.
D'Aboville said the Integrity Initiative is crafting a roadmap for the campaign and one of the plans is to have the certification for ethical business of companies, to be implemented by 2014.
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