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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Business groups pitch bill criminalizing B2B bribery

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BUSINESS organizations have proposed a measure to Congress which aims to criminalize bribery in the private sector.

“It’s not yet a bill but we passed it to our potential champions in Congress. It’s actually about criminalizing bribery that goes on in the private sector,” Alexander Cabrera, chairman of Integrity Initiative and also chairman of PwC Philippines, said at a virtual forum on Friday.

The Integrity Initiative chairman said the proposed measure is about giving gifts or promising favors to members of the private sector, with the goal of winning a contract, a bid, or “any transaction that they will have an advantage over the other.”

“Any business transaction which is not being done on the merits, and you’re winning because of special favors or gifts that goes into this anti-bribery in the private sector,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera highlighted a feature of the proposed bill which enforces whistleblowing. He said, “In fact if there’s something that they’re seeing and you’re not doing anything about it, you can be subject to penalties under this bill.”

He noted what usually happens in the private sector: when fraud occurs, “they sweep it under the rug, the person is let go and that emboldens probably the process because the most that you will be punished of is you will just be let go.”

However, he expressed hope that the “criminal aspect hanging over the heads of people who will get involved, I hope that it will actually help the private sector and the economy as a whole.”

Meanwhile, Royal Cargo Inc. CEO Michael Raeuber said business-to-business (B2B) corruption should be criminalized.  He said “we have been working on the bill and the bill is hopefully pending soon.” Raeuber is the cice chairman of Integrity Initiative Inc.

Cabrera told the BusinessMirror that the business organizations pitching the measure to combat bribery in the private sector are Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, and Institute of Corporate Directors.

According to the Makati Business Club (MBC) web site, the organization called Integrity Initiative was organized in 2009 and supports the legislation against B2B corruption while working on an Integrity Casebook.

In fact, Cabrera unveiled on Friday at the same virtual forum hosted by MBC an Integrity Casebook, a publication which he said “is largely based on the experience of companies like PwC, Shell, Royal Cargo, and members of the Integrity Initiative.”

These experiences, he noted, zero in on those firms’ experiences in overcoming “ethical dilemmas” without engaging in bribery.

Cabrera also underscored the importance of scrutinizing the “other end” of corruption.

“We often complain about corruption but we’re not really looking at the other end. There could be no corruption if no one pays and the person that pays is the private sector. This is actually actual cases and how the private sector concerned handled this case and resolved the case without putting in a bribe,” Cabrera stressed.

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