Push for change: Toward a better future for all
Let us now take a quick look at our country’s current situation. We are still facing severe and multiple crises, including a health crisis, an economic crisis, an education crisis, an environmental crisis and a social justice crisis. Given that 2022 is a critical election year for the country, we hope that “political and constitutional crisis” is not added to this already long list. Whatever the outcome may be, we are prepared to work with the duly elected new administration and contribute to its development program.
The current surge in infection rates is unfortunate, and it threatens to set back our country’s recovery. The unemployment rate in 2022 is expected to range between 7 to 9 percent or roughly three times the prepandemic 2.2 percent in 2019.
The digital divide is keeping the poor out of the emerging digital economy. Children from low-income families have limited access to online education, further exacerbating the education crisis.
With a poverty rate of 17.5 percent in 2021, there could be up to 19 million poor Filipinos among us. At the same time, millions of Filipinos are still suffering from the devastation caused by Typhoon “Odette.”
It is time for us not only to do more but also to be more. What we should be striving for right now is a new normal that is genuinely sustainable, resilient, equitable, inclusive and beneficial for all.
Top 3 main thrusts for 2022
Based on these observations, our 2022 Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) board has decided to adopt the theme, PUSH FOR CHANGE: Toward a Better Future for All.
Last year we did the GREAT RESET: Leading for the common good. Building on past gains, we move forward to push for change.
The first thrust: Policy reform for economic dynamism
We will put together an agenda of policy imperatives and push for their adoption, whether through executive or legislative action. In addition, we will advocate for good governance and the rule of law in the operation of and policy implementation by relevant public offices.
In the wake of the pandemic, the need for a conducive enabling environment for investment, foreign and domestic, becomes even more pressing. We must address the country’s energy security, resolve foreign ownership restrictions in critical industries and improve the ease of doing business, to name just a few imperatives.
In addition, we must unleash private sector participation in infrastructure development to benefit from private sector capital, expertise and efficiency.
During the campaign period, we will organize and participate in forums featuring the presidential, vice presidential and senatorial candidates. These forums will serve as a platform for raising our policy and governance concerns.
By mid-2022, we will invite newly elected and appointed national officials for policy dialogues.
We shall take a proactive stance on national issues that directly and substantially impact business and/or other sectors of society. Of particular interest to us are management excellence and good governance concerns. We intend to issue public statements on our own as MAP or in collaboration with other like-minded business groups.
The second thrust: Human development and well-being
Apart from skills training, we need an education system that will produce critically thinking and socially responsible citizens. I’m sure you agree that responsible citizenship is necessary for a well-functioning democracy.
While the issue affects all levels of education, I believe MAP should focus on the higher education sector, where academe-industry collaboration has been found effective, albeit not widely practiced. Such partnerships can improve curricula, augment faculty, provide apprenticeships for students, and facilitate collaborative research and innovation.
However, we are prepared to cooperate with other organizations to address the challenges in our basic education sector. We intend to push for programs that will generate more graduates from STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and are ready for work, particularly in data analytics.
We plan to support the Agri-Aqua Innovation Challenge project, a 10-month national competition for startups and students to help turn their technological ideas into actual products and services that will benefit farmers, fisherfolk and the rest of our population. For this project, we will join the Department of Science and Technology and the Asian Institute of Management. MAP members will serve as mentors and sponsors.
We are also considering collaborations with educational and other institutions to implement strategic programs with long-term national impact. We are particularly interested in programs that address critical business and social concerns, such as cybersecurity, health and responsible social media.
We also intend to look into the training of our seafarers. While Filipinos dominate ship crewing globally, very few become captains and senior merchant marine officers—high-paying positions that can benefit their families and the country more.
The third thrust: Shared prosperity and sustainability
In November 2020, MAP led a group of 26 business organizations in signing a Covenant for Shared Prosperity. This Covenant, in my view, has the potential to catalyze inclusive and sustainable development. We will assess its progress and consider renewing the commitments. We will also make an effort to bring these commitments to a broader range of companies, including micro, small and medium enterprises.
We will look into how environmental, social and governance metrics (ESG ) can support the Covenant’s implementation. We are discussing possible collaboration on an ESG Reporting project with the De La Salle University’s Animo Labs.
We have all witnessed how the ongoing pandemic has accelerated the implementation of technology solutions, like digital transformation. But the larger and more disruptive a crisis, the more opportunities it offers, as New York University Professor of Marketing Scott Galloway highlights in his 2020 book “Post Corona.” It appears that the timing could not be better for us to pursue policy reforms to improve the lives and well-being of Filipinos. It is also time to push for changing mindsets toward a more productive workforce and a more robust business commitment to environmental sustainability, social justice and good governance. The work may not be easy, but I assure you that the end result will be well worth it. INQ
This article was lifted from the author’s inaugural speech as MAP president for 2022. He is lead independent director of SM Investments Corp. and former president of the University of the Philippines. Feedback at [email protected] and [email protected]
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