Building a Nation of Integrity

Building a Nation of Integrity

MAKATI, Philippines – The pork barrel scam continues to escalate and to dominate the headlines. Hundreds of people took to the streets in rallies to demand justice and honesty from politicians.

To achieve a truly corrupt-free Philippines, each and every Filipino, must pledge to live a life of integrity. Thus, the celebration of Integrity Month, spearheaded by Makati Business Club and the European Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t have come at a better time.

Integrity month kicked off with a free concert to engage the youth. Sandwich, Radioactive Sago Project, Up Dharma Down and several other bands rocked the Glorietta Activity Center last September 5. Meanwhile, the Integrity Film Festival featured award-winning local films with themes on integrity including Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank and Vox Populi.

The culmination of Integrity Month was the 3rd Integrity Summit, which brought together hundreds of members of the business community, as well as members of civil society and government.

Ramon R. del Rosario, Chairman of the Integrity Initiative, shared on the milestones of the project so far. They have successfully expanded the network from 100 to 1,750 company signatories and from 30 to over 100 groups (industry associations, chambers of commerce, and professional organizations) within and outside Metro Manila. Mr. del Rosario ended his remarks with a call to personal integrity, “In the literal and figurative sense, integrity begins with “I”—it starts with a personal choice.”

ECCP President Michael Raeuber took off from del Rosario’s speech, stating “Integrity at its core is a personal matter and change towards ethical systems are driven by individual persons with integrity.” Mr. Raeuber proceeded to make a case for the importance of driving and sustaining the Initiative and discussed what more needs to be done.

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes A. Sereno, during the morning keynote, argued that integrity is not just about culture change but about systemic implementation via the constitutional framework. Sereno discussed the responsibilities and powers of COA, Ombudsman and the judiciary system in ensuring accountability in the use of public funds. She ended by stating "..the proper functioning of the constitutional and statutory bodies that are mandated to address the misuse of public funds, that make for a truly functioning democracy, one where the rule of law prevails." However, true democracy doesn't come without hard work from the citizens, who must constantly monitor progress, demand reports and ultimately engage themselves in the process.

Ombudsman Conchito Carpio-Morales further expounded on the Government’s efforts to unify its anti-corruption initiatives and programs stating that “...aside from the punitive approach and public education, there is a lesser-known corruption prevention aspect.” Ombudsman Morales went on to discuss the Integrity Management Program (IMP) which was a product of the harmonized Integrity Development Action Plan (IDAP) initiated by the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission and the Integrity Development Review (IDR) introduced by the Office of the Ombudsman. A simplified systems systems-based approach in integrity development, the IMP is envisioned to be the primary national anti-corruption prevention framework of the Philippine government.

She ended with a common and valid observation that corruption is increasingly becoming systemic, emphasising that “…as there is yet no absolute cure to corruption, prevention appears to be the only remedy or antidote against the spreading of this social malady.”

Senator Frank Drilon gives his message during the 3rd Integrity Summit
(PRIB Photo by Joseph Vidal/19 September 2013)

Senate President Frank Drilon echoed the sentiment of every Filipino in his speech declaring “we must take a principled stand against misleading powers.” Although the government must go through a painful cleansing process, he assured the audience that the depth of people’s anger is understood and that justice will succeed through “Aquino’s unwavering adherence to the principles of accountability and transparency.”

Although the Integrity Month has drawn to an end, the fight for it has not. Filipinos continue to advocate for integrity and companies and institutions nation-wide have established their commitment to achieving this by signing the pledge of integrity. If you would like to take your support to a whole new level, sign the integrity pledge here: http://integrityinitiative.com/the-integrity-pledge and help achieve a truly corrupt-free country. 

September 19, 2013
by Migel Estoque