February 28 – Kicking off the second meeting of the MBC Integrity Series, the public-private sector dialogue done in partnership with the British Embassy Manila focused on discussing transparency as a tool for social development in health and education.

Br. Armin Luistro, De La Salle Philippines President and former Department of Education Secretary, provided insights on the importance of interventions for integrity in education. The sector remains highly vulnerable to corruption, especially in delivery of public education in the Philippines: procurement of supplies, bidding of projects for school buildings and maintenance, basic pay and benefits of teachers, and the monitoring of students, among several other issues.

On the issue of corruption, Br. Armin said: “For every corrupt government official, there will be 5, 10 businessmen who corrupt them. Maybe this can be the basis of reforms for the Procurement Law. In some cases, bidders are already guaranteed to win even before bidding starts.”

Assistant Secretary Charade Mercado of the Department of Health also shared the sentiment that the integrity issues in the health sector are similar: bottlenecks can be found mostly in procurement and bidding. To this, she said, “The procurement law is old and needs improvement, and we hope MBC could help the government review what critical reforms can be implemented.”

Relaying best practices from the Philippine private sector, Atty. Alexander Cabrera, head of PwC Philippines and current Chairman of the Integrity Initiative, shared PwC’s integrity initiatives for the youth: a nationwide photo contest and values formation modules for high school and grade school students. Both programs have been rolled out successfully by PwC, and will be adopted as official Integrity Initiative projects in 2019.

To close the dialogue on social development, the British Embassy featured a presentation of the Newton-Agham Programme – the science and technology strand of the UK Prosperity Fund, which connects Filipino scientists and researchers to academic opportunities in the United Kingdom.