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11 Cabinet secretaries sign Integrity Pledge

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11 Cabinet secretaries sign Integrity Pledge

MANILA, Philippines—Eleven members of the Aquino Cabinet have signed the Integrity Pledge, effectively joining a private sector-led effort to institute control measures to help curb corruption in the country.

Henry Schumacher, vice president for external affairs of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, which spearheads the Integrity Initiative along with the Makati Business Club, said the Initiative had gained more steam these past months, as more government leaders exerted concrete steps to stamp out corruption.

The first of the Cabinet members to sign the pledge was Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who did so last month.

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Following her lead are Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim.

Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares and Bureau of Customs commissioner Angelito Alvarez likewise signed the pledge.

But signing the Integrity Pledge was just the first step, Schumacher said. These key players of the Aquino administration would now have to come up with control measures to ensure corruption-free operations in their respective departments and agencies.

“They have to cascade this to their people. This will be of no use if the people at the bottom do not know about this initiative,” Schumacher told reporters on Wednesday.

The Integrity Initiative is supported by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Asian Institute of Management, Coalition against Corruption, and the Management Association of the Philippines.

Since its launch in December 2010, this private sector-led effort to promote ethical business practices has gotten more than 500 private firms to sign up and commit to efforts to eliminate corruption in the country.

Signatories to the Integrity Pledge commit to shun bribery in any form, maintain a code of conduct for employees to pursue ethical business practices, and implement internal systems that will prevent any unethical conduct within their firms.

They also vow to maintain transparent and appropriate financial reporting mechanisms and to allow themselves to be subjected to audits should the need arise. They also commit to eventually enter into “integrity pacts’’ with government agencies and other businesses, especially in the area of procurement.

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One of the objectives of the Integrity Initiative is to eventually formulate integrity standards by which companies will be measured – a sort of ISO that will give qualified firms a seal of recognition.

The goal is to eventually get government agencies to commit to accept only bids coming from integrity-certified companies. This will encourage more companies to sign the Integrity Pledge.

In an earlier interview, MBC executive director Peter Angelo Perfecto said the integrity certification should be ready by 2014. The control measures, or the parameters to be used in judging a company’s overall integrity, are being formulated.

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TAGS: accountability, agreements, Aquino cabinet, ethics, Government, graft and corruption, Integrity Pledge, Philippines, pledges, transparency
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