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Center for International Private Enterprise

ECONOMICREFORM
Feature Service®
September 19, 2006

Business’ Vision for the Future


of the Philippines
Evelyn R. Singson
President,
Management Association of the Philippines (MAP)

In early 2006, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) honored the Management
Association of the Philippines (MAP) with an invitation to craft the Philippines
2030 Business Roadmap. MAP found that the Philippine business community has
a vision for the country: to be globally competitive and to be the primary driver of
economic, environmental, and social development through honest wealth creation,
enlightened entrepreneurship, and equitable income distribution consistent with
ethical and responsible citizenship.

Capturing this vision on paper was challenging, but the more difficult task ahead
will be ensuring that business organizations go beyond “praise and accolades” for
the document. The business community must fully adopt the Roadmap’s objectives
and initiatives as its own and monitor the progress of individual firms. In this
manner, the desired timetables will be met, so that the 2030 end goal is reached.

This article was adapted from a presentation given by Ms. Singson at the Institute for
Solidarity in Asia’s “Mahal Ko ang Pilipinas” (I Love the Philippines) conference held
on August 30, 2006.

published by the
Center for International Private Enterprise
an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1155 Fifteenth Street NW • Suite 700 • Washington, DC 20005 • USA
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Center for International Private Enterprise Business’ Vision for the Future of the Philippines

A Roadmap to Progress
The Institute for Solidarity in Asia and
In early 2006, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia the Public Governance System
(ISA) honored the Management Association of the
Philippines (MAP) with an invitation to craft the The Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) is a
Philippines 2030 Business Roadmap. Soon thereafter, non-profit, non-partisan organization created in
MAP formed an ad hoc committee of 26 CEOs, 2000 that works to improve public governance
all of whom are outstanding professional managers. by encouraging citizen participation. ISA works
The combined experience of this group spanned the with eight model cities to foster democratic
whole spectrum of Philippine business, as several governance at the local level and with a network
had even served as cabinet members in this and past of businesses and civil society groups throughout
administrations. This committee volunteered to serve as the Philippines that are committed to improving
the working group that would produce Roadmap drafts governance within their organizations and
and present them to the business community for its country.
review, revisions, critique, suggestions, and, ultimately,
approval. CIPE began working with ISA in 2004 to
implement ISA’s Public Governance System
The crafting of the Philippines 2030 Business (PGS). PGS is a governance tool based on
Roadmap allowed the MAP committee to examine the Balanced Scorecard, a revolutionary
key sectors of the economy. Now MAP knows more measurement and management system used
about the aspirations, the struggles, the concerns, and in business and developed at the Harvard
the challenges faced by the private sector. Through Business School. A key component of the PGS
this evaluation, the committee realized that many is the Roadmap, which is a long-term plan
businesspeople and professional managers have clear for implementing better governance practices
visions for their sectors. They also have a good grasp based on the specific needs and goals of each
of what is needed to solve their industry challenges and participating sector, city, region, and the
the impact that these challenges have on the national Philippines as a whole.
development of the Philippines. Indeed, there are many
patriots in the Philippine business sector. In August 2006, ISA hosted a conference
called “Mahal Ko ang Pilipinas” (“I Love the
During the weekly meetings that led to the final Philippines”) to highlight the accomplishments
draft of the Roadmap, MAP members steadily assumed of the PGS participants in achieving the goals
responsibility as businesspeople for the current state of set forth in the National Roadmap: Philippines
the nation and recognized the failure of governance in 2030. The 2030 Roadmap is a long term map
both the public and private sectors, as well as in local for the Philippines as a nation; it encompasses
and national government. They realized that the only the individual Roadmaps of the cities and sectors
way out of this governance deficit would be to look and serves as a statement of national unity.
beyond the present and focus on a long-term strategy of
creating opportunities for individuals and giving them
the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty. and responsible citizenship. These four modifiers,
global, entrepreneurial, responsible, and ethical, are
The Philippine business community has a vision closely related to doing business today in both the
for the country, and MAP has been able to capture Philippines and in other economies throughout the
it in the Roadmap. This vision is to be globally world. If the business community is to make MAP’s
competitive and to be the primary driver of economic, vision a reality, there are several values that must be
environmental, and social development through honest integrated into Philippine business practices, and these
wealth creation, enlightened entrepreneurship, and are: transparency, teamwork, responsible citizenship,
equitable income distribution consistent with ethical innovation, ethics, excellence, and discipline.
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Business’ Vision for the Future of the Philippines Center for International Private Enterprise

Why Are These Values So Important? the business community must be people and businesses
that demonstrate excellence in the way they comport
Transparency is always paired with fairness and themselves and in their daily business operations.
accountability, thus it means being truthful in words
and actions. Transparency implies that business has Ethical behavior must be restored as a strong value
the responsibility to fully disclose information, without and “doing the right thing” must be its own reward.
reservation, and should not give preferential treatment For too long, Philippine society has rewarded the
to individual groups. Once business proves itself to wrong people and the wrong businesses. It has admired
be transparent, it can demand the same from the companies that have earned huge profits even if they
government. denuded the forests or polluted the water. Citizens are
no longer scandalized by wealthy individuals who pay
Teamwork will be achieved if the business insufficient taxes or powerful government officials who
community shares objectives, and it will collapse if use their positions to amass undeserved wealth. Unless
personal interest comes to the forefront. The vision this misguided admiration for the material does not
of ISA is “one nation, under God, one community of end, a passion for excellence will never develop.
responsible citizens who deeply love their country,” and
its message is clear: the country is above self. If this is Finally, discipline is the mark of a civilized society
everyone’s overriding objective, “Team Philippines” will because it is grounded in the principle of respecting the
win. rights of others. It is order, not chaos; it is following the
rules, not for fear of being caught, but because it is the
Responsible citizenship means expanding one’s reach right thing to do. Discipline must be a way of life, not
beyond familiar territory, respecting one’s neighbors and an aberration. However, discipline can only be enforced
the environment, and ensuring that investments and if there is an effective reward and penalty system.
operations have a positive impact on others. Corporate
philanthropy and corporate social responsibility are Crafting and Implementing the Roadmap
now integral parts of corporate citizenship. Wealthy
businesspeople now build or sponsor, in addition to MAP’s mission, vision, and core values were the
successful companies, schools, foundations, sporting guiding principles in the crafting of the Business
teams, housing for the poor, hospitals, and other social Roadmap. The MAP committee members started the
projects. This is the reality in the Philippines, just as it drafting process by examining ISA’s nation-building
is the reality in many other economies. objectives. While the business community fully concurs
with ISA’s 12 strategic objectives of the Philippines 2030
Innovation will improve the Philippines’ competitive Roadmap, through its work in designing the Roadmap,
indices, as the country has fallen behind those that it added an additional nine – improved quality of life,
just a few years ago were ranked lower. The business equitable distribution of income, adequate job creation,
community needs to reverse this troubling trend by effective poverty alleviation, infrastructure, decreased
excelling in the fields where it is most competitive. The red tape, increased ease of doing business, education,
Philippine economy cannot continue to grow at meager and subsidiarity.
rates or the poverty level will never decrease and a strong Improving the quality of life of Philippine citizens is
middle class will never develop. the first new objective because development should not
come at a high price. MAP aims for balanced growth
The passion for excellence is a national core – where every Filipino can live and work safely, breath
value for ISA and must be adopted by the business unpolluted air, eat healthy food, travel efficiently, receive
community as its own. Globalization will no longer quality education, and enjoy other basic freedoms.
tolerate the usual puwede na (“it will pass”) mentality. To achieve this, the business community must devise
The Philippine nation must encourage, if not demand, sustainable and reliable ways of delivering growth
quality people and quality institutions. Role models for without reducing citizens’ quality of life.

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Center for International Private Enterprise Business’ Vision for the Future of the Philippines

From a financial perspective, MAP wants each local government units that do not value the benefits of
Filipino to be gainfully employed whenever and business-friendly policies.
wherever he wishes. To achieve this, the committee
added three inter-related objectives: the equitable Business must value education, support efforts
distribution of income, adequate job creation, and to improve literacy, and encourage research and
effective poverty alleviation. The Philippine business development, which are the parents of innovation.
community is fully committed to fighting poverty, Education is the single biggest factor essential to the
and MAP knows that the greatest antidote to poverty Philippines’ progress, not only economically but also
is jobs, jobs, and more jobs. The economy must grow politically. It will be the solution to the seemingly
sustainably at six percent per year, preferably eight to paralyzing problems facing the country. Thus if the
ten percent, to decrease poverty and unemployment. emphasis of business on education seems “overweight,”
Philippine business must, therefore, be allowed and it only reflects the belief that it is a fundamental
incentivized to grow. requisite in achieving all other goals.

The present “brain drain” should be viewed as The government needs to take the brave step of
temporary and not a solution to relieving the pressure adopting the principle of subsidiarity – to convince the
of unemployment due to the lack of job opportunities government to concentrate on creating an environment
in the country. Filipinos should work abroad because of stability, predictability, and non-interference and
there is a global demand for their skills, competence, allow business to fend for itself in a free-market
and work ethic, not because they are forced to leave environment. To make a brutally frank statement,
under unfavorable circumstances. MAP’s ultimate government must get out of business and stick to
goal is to bring the production of goods and services governance.
back to the country and make these the foundation of
an entrepreneurial society and the economic base for These objectives are measurable by indices generated
development and growth. Love of country and family by independent third parties. Hence, progress can be
should be the motivating force that will entice overseas measured by economic indicators, literacy rates, quality
workers to take advantage of their training abroad and of life indices, and various other scorecards.
apply newly acquired skills to building and running
new industries that can stabilize and sustain economic MAP has also indicated 39 initiatives that the
life in the Philippines. business community can adopt and integrate into every
firm’s actionable commitment to the Roadmap, which
From the standpoint of infrastructure, the business include helping to upgrade school curricula, promoting
community wishes to extend connectivity to rural areas a culture of excellence in their own organizations, and
so that Filipinos residing in remote locations can benefit providing entrepreneurial training to their employees.
from technology. This will enable Filipinos throughout
the country to employ creativity that would otherwise MAP selected the 10 leading growth sectors,
remain latent if they were unable to access modern including agribusiness, tourism, healthcare, education,
technology. infrastructure, and transportation, to write their own
Roadmaps, which will parallel the Philippines 2030
The business community also wants to benchmark Business Roadmap. The process of devising these
bureaucracy and the ease of doing business against Roadmaps, while arduous, proved very fulfilling and
regional neighbors. In competitiveness rankings, the was viewed as a solid contribution to building the
Philippines consistently ranks in the bottom third of Philippine nation.
countries surveyed, thus showing how complicated
and time consuming it is to start or do business in The more difficult task ahead will be to get the
the country. The business community must work to business organizations to go beyond “praise and
reduce red-tape, which is aggravated by unenlightened accolades” for an excellent Roadmap. The business

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Business’ Vision for the Future of the Philippines Center for International Private Enterprise

community must fully adopt the Roadmap’s objectives


and initiatives as its own and monitor the progress of
individual firms. In this manner, the desired timetables
will be met, so that the 2030 end goal is reached, not
breached.
_________________________________________

Evelyn R. Singson is the first woman elected president


of the Management Association of the Philippines. She is a
fellow of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia and a director
of the Corporate Governance Institute of the Philippines.
She has also been an executive in the financial services
industry.

For more information on the Philippines 2030


Roadmap, visit ISA’s website: www.isacenter.org.

The views expressed by the author are her own and do not
necessarily represent the views of the Center for International
Private Enterprise. The Center for International Private
Enterprise grants permission to reprint, translate, and/or
publish original articles from its Economic Reform Feature
Service provided that (1) proper attribution is given to
the original author and to CIPE and (2) CIPE is notified
where the article is placed and a copy is provided to CIPE’s
Washington office via mail, e-mail, or fax.

The Center for International Private Enterprise is a


non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and
one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment
for Democracy. CIPE has supported more than 900 local
initiatives in over 100 developing countries, involving the
private sector in policy advocacy and institutional reform,
improving governance, and building understanding of
market-based democratic systems. CIPE programs are
also supported through the United States Agency for
International Development.

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