NOY MAKES A PITCH VS CORPORATE GREED / NO PEACE, ONLY BONDS

MANILA, OCTOBER 22, 2011 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - President Aquino on Wednesday made a pitch against corporate greed as he paid tribute to six companies that received awards for corporate social responsibility.


“At this moment, a movement called Occupy Wall Street has caught the eye of the world. In fact, this is a movement that has been picked up by people around the globe. In city streets from America to Athens, people have gathered to express their dissatisfaction with a status quo that they perceive to be unjust, oppressive, and incapable of dealing with today’s realities,” Aquino said during the Asian Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards organized by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and Intel held at EDSA Shangri-La hotel in Mandaluyong City.

“They have been protesting against companies that engage in what they deem to be the usurpation of regulation and, in some cases, democracy itself. We see that these groups of people from different nations all share the same rallying cry: there must be accountability; there must be inclusive growth,” he said.

He said at present, it was a difficult time for everyone in the world to be the head of a corporation, given that companies seemed to be portrayed as the bad guys in this latest global economic and social crisis.

“When one looks at our part of the world, however, this is not the case. While of course there will always be exceptions, here in our region, corporations – especially the ones more active in their humanitarian endeavors – are generally seen in a positive light. The people recognize the value that business can bring to a nation; they see the opportunities and the possibilities, and realize that corporations and individuals can empower each other and partner toward the achievement of a just society,” the President said.

“I believe that this is partly because many Philippine and Asian corporations have been actively engaged in corporate social responsibility activities. Many, if not all, of you present here have made the conscious decision to play a greater role in the communities in which you do business. Realizing that you do not live and work in a vacuum, you have done your best to help ensure that the people living in the societies in which you operate are given the chance to live a more dignified life,” he said.

The six winners of this year’s Asian CSR Awards were lauded for implementing sustainable and innovative CSR programs in the areas of health, environment, poverty alleviation, and education.

Of the six winners, two companies are based in Thailand while the others are based in Pakistan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Among the winners of the CSR awards were Pfizer Thailand (health enhancement), The Link Management Limited of Hong Kong (environment excellence), Citi Pakistan and Double A (1991) Public Company Limited (poverty alleviation) and Abbott Singapore (education improvement).

On the other hand, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa of Malaysia received the Intel-AIM CSR Award. The award is given to companies that have well-aligned CSR programs that make their business sustainable.

Aquino lamented that no Filipino corporation won this year and said he would encourage them to excel more so they would be recognized and the Philippines would not be left behind.

But Ramon del Rosario Jr., chairman of the board of advisors of the AIM-Ramon V. del Rosario Sr. Center for Corporate Social Responsibility, said while there were no winners from the Philippines this year, Philippine companies are among those at the forefront in practicing CSR.

“In all the other Asian CSR awards, they have been dominated by Philippine winners,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said many Filipino firms have been successful in demonstrating their social responsibility even at the community level.

“I think we are on the right track. We are very aware of the things we need to keep doing. We have such a wide array of examples of companies doing very good work,” he said. – With Alexis Romero

 

 

PNoy leads 2011 Asian CSR Awards by Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility (AFCSR) on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:24am .

THE BEST CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR) programs in the region take center stage during the ninth annual Asian CSR Awards on October 19, 2011 at the EDSA Shangri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, will be the guest-of-honor as the winners of the awards are presented during a gala dinner that will cap the two-day Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility held on October 18-19, 2011.

The Asian CSR Awards recognizes and honors Asian companies for outstanding, innovative and world-class products, services, projects and programs. The awards program is presented by the Asian Institute of Management - Ramon V. del Rosario, Sr. Center for Corporate Social Responsibility (AIM-RVR Center) and Intel.

A total of 175 corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects submitted by 129 organizations from across the Asian region are competing in this year’s Asian CSR Awards. Nominations were received from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines,

Projects should demonstrate the company's leadership, sincerity and on-going commitment in incorporating ethical values, compliance with legal requirements, respect for individuals, involvement in communities and protection of the environment into the way they do business. Nominated programs are vying for awards in four categories: health enhancement, environmental excellence, poverty alleviation, and education improvement.

The Asian CSR Awards will also present the 5th Intel-AIM Corporate Responsibility Award (IACRA). The IACRA honors organizations in Asia that have made CSR an integral part of the way they do business and have implemented CSR projects that have an impact and are sustainable.

This year’s IACRA gathered 44 nominations from China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Entries for the Asian CSR Awards and IACRA from various fields, including manufacturing, banking and finance, transportation, logistics, the petroleum industry, agriculture, mining, telecommunications, information technology, hospitality and leisure, business process outsourcing, broadcasting, as well as non-government organizations and corporate foundations.

For more information on these awards, please visit the website at www.asianforumcsr.com

FROM THE DAILY INQUIRER

Glimpses No peace, only bonds By: Jose Ma. Montelibano 9:47 pm | Thursday, October 20, 2011

It is said that always time to pay debts that become due, even those which should not have ever been borrowed.

The PEACE bonds have become due, all P35 billion of them, after the government borrowed P10 billion ten years ago. There were many unanswered questions when the bonds were floated, not in the air, but towards RCBC – as claimed from competing banks then. It did not help that perceived serious conflict of interest stained the transaction, but a new president who was the main beneficiary of Erap Estrada’s ouster was hard to stop.

If questions were not answered satisfactorily then, they definitely are not answered today. In fact, one more controversy has erupted because the government, through the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), is trying to collect taxes on the profits of banks who participated in the PEACE Bonds. In many societies, taxes are sacred. No one escapes them. But in the Philippines, the sense of entitlement of those who hold lofty positions or great wealth is hard to dismantle.

This sense of entitlement has been aptly called “utak wang-wang,” and is obviously not limited to politicians. Banks and those who own or control them have the proverbial “wang-wangs,” too, literally and otherwise – including security personnel with officially-issued firepower of different calibers.

So, now, we have two parties with a strong sense of entitlement clashing. Government versus Banks. To tax or not to tax, this is the question.

According to the banks, government had assured them that their profits would be tax-free.

The Supreme Court, not knowing the key agreements of a financial transaction, has issued a temporary restraining order on the government’s attempt to tax the profits of the banks. It means the government must pay the P35 billion that is due. At the same time, the Supreme Court says that the equivalent of government’s tax claims must be set aside by the banks just in case the government’s case is favorably decided upon.

We have a virtual impasse which must be very irritating to the banks. I believe that their irritation is well worth it to the Filipino people because the issue of the PEACE bonds may find public attention and this attention may result in finally answering what has been avoided for so long.

What were the PEACE bonds for in the first place?

Why did Gloria Arroyo approve them with all their conditionalities?

Who were the official personalities involved and their relationship to earning fees and commissions on a government-initiated transaction?

An NGO was involved, and benefited. Why?

What entitled the NGO to such a sweetheart arrangement?

What had it done or achieved to be blessed with an official favor without benefit of a public hearing for its purpose and qualifications?

What actually happened to the PEACE bonds? How as the P10 billion divided if not all of the P10 billion went to government coffers?

What did the government do with its share of the P10 billion as far as peace was concerned? What did others do with their share of the P10 billion and how did these benefit the cause of peace?

The question of government taxing profits is usually not a question but a fact of life. Why is it questionable now?

Why was an assurance of tax-free profits given then as claimed by the banks? What concessions did they grant government then that could possibly justify their profits to be tax-free? Were their interest rates well below market then? Were they simple pressured to grant a loan that they did not want to give in the first place? Can the public now be given full disclosure about the rationale and configuration of the PEACE bonds?

It is not as though questions have not been asked before. They were simply not answered, or not answered fully – therefore not answered truthfully. Just as much as a suicide has triggered investigations about how government banks seemed to have casually lent money, even just hours after a request is processed and approved, to a former Cabinet officer of the Marcos dictatorship, the BIR move to tax the profits of banks involved in the PEACE bonds may force the whole truth to be known by the public.

Furthermore, two apparently non-related issues ought to push a transparent investigation of the PEACE Bonds. It would be good to know if the PEACE Bonds were titled so because their use would be to promote peace or just a convenient term to deodorize what the funds would really be for. The death of 19 government soldiers after a clash with the MILF leaves a bitter taste in the mouth in the cause of peace. The PEACE bonds are unrelated to this massacre – or shouldn’t they be by the mere use of the word PEACE?

The other issue is the claim made that government money, or government officials involved in the peace process, were used to cheat in the 2004 presidential elections. Wow, irony of ironies, Gloria officials then who may have been intimately related to the PEACE bonds or the NGO blessed by Gloria may finally be forced to share their stories to have closure – especially if they are also serving in the P-Noy administration.

The cause of peace did not prosper in the life of the PEACE bonds. The truth about them, if it can be ferreted out, may be a building block to a more sincere and effective pursuit of that elusive peace.

It was always the people’s money, not Gloria’s, not her officials or favored friends, not even the banks if they get paid the principal and interest. The people’s money in the hands of those in lofty positions and great wealth. If the people cannot decide for themselves on how to use the money, they can be told at least the truth about how that money was divided, how it was used, and how the cause of peace was served.

To the BIR, the banks and the Supreme Court, thank you for paving the way for truth, and maybe, after all, for peace through the PEACE bonds.

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