Corporate Social Responsibility Bill hurdles final reading

All business organizations in the Philippines may soon be encouraged to commit to more social responsibility initiatives as the House of Representatives unanimously approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 9061 or the proposed “Corporate Social Responsibility Act.”

HB 9061, principally authored by former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, received 158 affirmative votes from House Members. There were no negative votes and abstention.

It states that the government recognizes the vital role of the private sector in nation building and thus, shall urge its active participation in fostering sustainable economic development and environment protection in the country.

“It is observed that many corporations and other business organizations have shown very little care for the welfare of the society, community where they operate, and the natural environment around them. Their sole purpose is to maximize their respective returns on investment totally disregarding the impact of their activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and environment,” explained Speaker Arroyo.

To this end, the measure provides that these business organizations, whether foreign or domestic, shall be encouraged to observe corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their operations.

The bill defines CSR as the commitment of a business to contribute on a voluntary basis to sustainable development by working with relevant stakeholders to improve their lives in ways that are also good for business, sustainable development agenda, and the society.

In particular, CSR-related activities shall include (a) charitable programs and projects, (b) scientific research, (c) youth and sports development, (d) cultural and educational promotion, (e) services to veterans and senior citizens, (f) social welfare, (g) environmental sustainability, (h) health development, (i) disaster relief and assistance, (j) socialized and low-cost housing, and (k) employee and worker welfare.

To further push for companies to take part in this measure, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shall recognize and reward business organizations for outstanding, innovative, and world-class CSR-related services, projects and programs.

In addition, it shall also extend endorsements and encouragements to corporations, which are candidates for recognition in international award-giving bodies for their initiatives.

The bill mandates local government units, where the activities shall be conducted, to provide the necessary assistance to business organizations to accomplish their CSR-related programs and projects.

Meanwhile, these corporations shall be required to submit the list of their CSR activities as part of their annual or regular report to the DTI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Department of Finance.| Molie Gonzales, News and Documentation Section-Press and Public Affairs Bureau/ House of Representatives of the Philippines