Press Release
July 20, 2011

Villar urges businessmen to supplement gov't efforts vs. poverty

Sen. Manny Villar urged the country's largest corporations to step up and supplement government efforts in improving the society and addressing poverty through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

In a speech delivered during the 10th Annual CSR Expo and Conference organized by the League of Corporate Foundations, Villar stressed that "the private sector with it considerable financial and technical resources can make a real difference in improving society and helping address poverty problem in the country."

"Oftentimes, those in the corporate sector can boldly claim to be more competent and efficient than those in the government or public office which admittedly is more prone to corruption and red tape," he added.

Villar, chairman of the Committee on Trade and Commerce in the Senate, also made a pitch for the bill he authored institutionalizing CSR work among wealthy corporations.

Senate Bill No. 1239 which was sponsored in the Senate and pending Second Reading, seeks to make mandatory for large taxpayers - as defined by the National Internal Revenue Code and as identified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue - to allocate a reasonable percentage of their net income towards CSR activities.

He said this proposal will exert some pressure on selected firms to give what is right and fair for projects that give back to communities by supporting community development programs, environment protection initiatives, social welfare and assistance and the like.

"What the CSR bill envisions to do is provide impetus for change. It is a gentle prod that we as individuals, and our companies, are citizens of a larger universe which we all have an obligation to," Villar said.

The bill, he added, seeks to entice corporations not yet in the CSR frame of mind to embrace CSR work by providing incentives to business organizations. The incentive could be in the form of a full deduction from its gross income of all expenses incurred.

"I am pushing for something I sincerely believe will make a difference to our fellow countrymen. Indeed, crafting the CSR Bill allowed me to draw on my unique experience and awareness of private sector obligation in nation-building," Villar said.

"Of course, just as CSR is a natural inclination for many companies, quite a few still needs to be moved in the right direction. Thus, it is imperative to provide not just enticements but mandatory obligations within a company's sphere of attention. We need to disturb the people in board rooms so that they can look up from reading their financial sheets and have a look around," he added.

Villar also showcased the achievements of the Villar Foundation, which he heads. He said the foundation is a manifestation of a promise to give back when he can.

Among Villar Foundation's initiatives are the Zapote-Las Pinas River Rehabilitation Program, the Skills-Up and Livelihood Assistance Program, the Sagip OFW Helpline, Caravan Kaalaman and the building of churches in different parts of the country, among others.

"This is the paradigm behind true CSR; expanding beyond the usual financial reporting framework by giving importance to things ecological and social. The sole emphasis on the shareholder has given way to sensitivity to stakeholders - an environment of people and things affected by a corporation's activities," he said.

"We are as much a part of society as the beneficiaries of our CSR efforts. In fact, our existence and operations are interwoven with them. If you reduce poverty and empower them financially, they become potential markets for our products in the future," he added.

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