The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) calls for enterprises to continue in working and operating their business ethically, and stay at the forefront in leading the right path towards a clean and honest business community and society in the Asia Pacific Region.

“Governments can only do so much. The private sector must be vigilant, must police themselves, and must cooperate among one another towards establishing a common understanding on the importance of institutionalizing codes of ethics in their respective industries,” Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya said during the recent APEC Business Ethics for SMEs Forum.

Maglaya said that governments like the Philippines can ensure transparency and predictability of our rules, regulations and procedures, and to streamline processes.

She added that governments have a role to play in this advocacy, and need to put in place an enabling policy to ensure compliance. Businesses need some degree of protection through legislation and other legal means to ensure that the public or the consumer does not suffer because of dishonest and unfair business practices.

“Governments also have a supervisory role in business ethics. We cannot simply let large organizations, which have the capacity to capture the bigger market share, to overpower the whole industry,” Maglaya said.

Maglaya said that the government must see to it that mergers, which are subject to antitrust law, are ethically carried out and are not taking a position of dominance.

She cited the passing of the Philippine Competition Act in Congress, which makes the country join the list of Asian countries and APEC economies that have the antitrust law.

This act addresses the abuse of dominant position of large enterprises and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions. It established the Philippine Competition Commission that ensures a level playing field for enterprises regardless of size or market share.

Maglaya also said that governments can also give recognition to enterprises which have demonstrated exceptional leadership in business ethics.

She mentioned that as early as 2011, the private sector headed by the Makati Business Club (MBC), the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), and other thought leaders led our country in the discussion of fighting corruption by introducing and strengthening ethical standards in business.

The discussion led to the development of the integrity initiative, a private sector-led campaign aiming to strengthen ethical standards in business. This initiative inspires and aspires for a level playing field where companies that do business with integrity enjoy competitive advantage in both government and private sector transactions.

To achieve this goal, market players in the Philippines commit to voluntarily adhere to common ethical standards. The initiative brings together businesses and industry associations to follow a common roadmap that institutionalizes integrity in all aspects of the business process.

“Since 2010 when the project started, MBC and Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) have been joined by various organizations and industry organizations in taking an active role in promoting honesty and transparency in Philippine business,” Maglaya said. These organizations joined the integrity pledge, a commitment to ethical business practices and good corporate governance,” Maglaya said.

Maglaya noted that the signatories to the pledge, which have grown from 500 to 2,000 are part of a growing group of ethically-conscious companies spearheading positive change in the Philippines. The signatories are expected to abide by the unified code of conduct for business.

“The Code ensures that different market players adhere to the same rules of the game in order to create fair market conditions and promote transparency in doing business,” Maglaya said. (END)