15 November 2015


Ph Chief Justice to APEC Business: Mainstream and incentivize women work values
MANILA) Women’s work values should be mainstreamed and incentivized in business, Philippine Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno told the APEC Business Advisory Council Saturday.

Women’s emphasis on self-fulfillment, family and other relationships, and time flexibility, as well as their multi-faceted, consensual, and intuitive leadership styles should be incorporated in business practices.

These values and leadership style should be encouraged, and not taken against women.

“We as a group are for multi-faceted leadership that is also consensual, intuitive, community-based, engendering family-typed feelings. These should be recognized and amply rewarded,” Sereno said.

“The female style must be recognized by mainstream business literature on the restructuring of economies,” she added.

Non-economic goals beyond quality of life or human development indices can be achieved when the person’s feelings are considered. The legal structure, for its part, must do its part, the chief justice said.

“Substantive law must respond. We need to make the playing field fair, predictable, and transparent, with open information, simpler rules, and Internet-friendly,” Sereno said.

“There should be incentives to family-friendly employers… there should be incentives for networking that does not destroy family time,” she added.

In the Philippines, among those laws that may need to be updated are the Labor Code and the Tax Code, she said.

“For example, the Labor Code of 1974 and the tax regimes circa 1990s are the two major business frameworks for regulations that may need judicial review so that they would have predictability and fairness,” she said.

However, the chief justice refused to specify the provisions that need changes as legal questions might be raised before her court.

More women have joined the formal labor force, many doing in business process outsourcing working in night shifts.

The Labor Code prohibits, among others, night work for women, while the Tax Code provides for different tax exemptions for single and married people.

Responding to a question from an ABAC member from Hong Kong on how to include more men in child and home care, Sereno proposed the expansion of paternity and family leaves.

In her welcome remarks and introduction of Sereno, ABAC 2015 chair Doris Magsaysay Ho said Sereno, as the Philippines’ first female chief justice, was invited because ABAC’s work involves recommending policies to leaders to, among others, make workplaces more women-friendly.

At the same time, Ho said ABAC seeks to make economies more transparent and predictable. Sereno is able to marry these ideas of women, business, and rule of law.

“Many economies have opened trade and investment with laws, only to find major impediments around unfriendly laws or unfriendly interpretation of friendly laws or friendly interpretation of bad laws,” she said. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

12 Philippine public institutions set up as models for anti-corruption and good governance in APEC
MANILA) Twelve public sector institutions who were declared last month as the Philippines’ first “Islands of Good Governance” (IGG) were presented to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Friday night as beacons for anti-corruption and good governance in the region.

According to Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) Chairman Emeritus Dr. Jess Estanislao their stories of transformation through good governance are available for others to look at and possibly learn from.

The first IGG include the cities of Balanga in Bataan, Mandaue in Cebu, Talisay in Negros Occidental, Butuan in Agusan del Norte, and Dipolog in Zamboanga del Norte; the Philippine Heart Center, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, the National Electrification Administration (NEA), and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The five city governments were cited for their endeavors to improve economic wellness in their locales through programs promoting knowledge-based businesses, agro-forestry, sports and recreation, high-quality manufacturing, and retiree-friendly zones, respectively.

The Philippine Heart Center, on the other hand, was praised for its desire to improve heart health status for the less fortunate.

DTI was cited for its commitment to increase the country’s competitiveness by 2016 from lower third to upper third rank in the World Economic Forum (WEF) global competitiveness report. It has heightened consumer awareness from 66 percent in 2012 to 80 percent this year.

The AFP was recognized for increasing operational readiness of its Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) national response units from 64 percent to 80 percent in 2015, while the Philippine Army was hailed for its initiative to craft functional personal scorecards for 100% of the Philippine Army’s non-commissioned officers or 60,000 men and women.

The Philippine Navy was commended for successfully achieving its breakthrough commitments as a Standard of Excellence, Bastion of Innovation, and Sentinel of the Sea, guided by its strategic Sail Plan 2020.

The NEA was credited for being well on its way to attaining 100 percent sitio energization, thus serving an additional 1.4 million consumer connections, and providing P5 billion financial assistance to electric cooperatives.

The only banking institution on the list, the BSP was awarded for continuously being top-ranked globally in policy and regulation and for being the first central bank in the world to establish an enabling environment for financial inclusion.

All were put through a rigorous two-year selection process, including audits by respected firms the Institute of Internal Auditors Philippines (IIA-P), KPMG and R.G. Manabat & Co. and Deloitte and Navarro Amper & Co.

In a speech delivered during the ABAC luncheon with APEC Senior Officials at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City, Dr. Estanislao stressed that the award demands that they should “continue to give good example and inspiration to all other institutions.”

“They are to be re-certified every 3 years: for their observance of the Code of Ethics and Integrity; their practice of solidarity and promotion of entrepreneurship in social enterprises; and their governance outreach proving that social responsibility has been embedded into their transformation program,” he said.

“Even as they share good governance practices, we implore our Philippine public sector institutions to learn from the best anti-corruption and good governance practices from the entire APEC community,” added Estanislao. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

Security for APEC summit under control – DFA
MANILA) Amid the terrorist attacks in France, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assured that the security measures for the coming of some 17 leaders and three representatives for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit next week is “under control.”

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said there is nothing to worry about, and that no delegation has expressed concern about the security measures being undertaken for the leaders’ meeting.

“Of course, our security officials are monitoring and assessing the situation and we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of all delegates in the AELM [APEC Leaders’ Meeting], especially the economic leaders,” he added.

The security agencies would have to assess the situation and beef up security measures as needed.

“Hopefully, by the time of the economic leaders meeting in Manila next week, we are sincerely hoping that situation in Paris, in particular, have turned to normal,” Jose said.

The Philippines is expecting some 17 leaders and three representatives after Russia and Indonesia confirmed the non-attendance of their presidents, Vladimir Putin and Joko Widodo, respectively.

Chinese Taipei will also send a representative in place of President Ma Ying-jeou.

Paris was rocked by explosions and gunshots this morning (Manila time) that left more than 150 people dead and a score of injured bodies.

The French government has declared a national state of emergency and tightened borders to close down on the perpetrators of the attack.

These are the deadliest attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings. (PCOO APEC Communications Team)

Paris attacks yield no Filipino casualty so far — Palace
No Filipino national has so far been killed or injured in the November 13 Paris attacks, Malacañang said on Sunday, citing initial report from the Philippine Embassy in France.

“Wala pa tayong natatanggap na ulat hinggil sa mga Filipino national na naapektuhan doon sa terror attacks,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told Radyo ng Bayan.

Coloma, however, said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through Philippine Ambassador to the French Republic Maria Theresa Lazaro thoroughly continues to monitor the situation.

“Ready silang magparating ng assistance sa ating mga kababayan at tinatawagan din na sumunod sa mga panawagan ng local authorities doon,” Coloma added.

Filipino migrants and workers, meanwhile, were asked to consider the advice of local authorities at all times, as tensions remain high in Paris following the attacks.

There are approximately 50,000 to 60,000 Filipinos currently residing in France, according to online references, and half of them are said to be undocumented. A small Filipino community also exists in the French capital.

Malacañang deplored the senseless murders of civilians in Paris, Saturday, with President Benigno S. Aquino III himself describing it as “atrocities that demand a united voice from the world in condemnation and grief.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has reportedly claimed responsibility for the mass shootings and bombings in Paris and Saint-Denis that left over 120 people dead and more than 350 severely injured. PND (hdc)

APEC small businesses now have better access to trade information
MANILA) Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies now have better access to trade information with the launching of the APEC Trade Repository (APECTR).

APECTR is an online reference tool for trade and tariff information that works towards trade facilitation, transparency, information dissemination and connectivity in the region.

The APECTR is a Philippine-led initiative under the Boracay Action Agenda to globalize MSMEs into global value chain adopted by Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) during their meeting in May.

Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo, at the media launch of APECTR here on Sunday, said the APECTR is in line with the provision in the Boracay Action Agenda to provide timely and accurate information on exports and imports procedures and requirements.

Rodolfo noted that access to trade data remains a key concern for MSMEs in participating in global and regional trade.

“In our consultations with MSMEs, easy access to trade-related information has been consistently cited as a critical barrier to their being able to penetrate export markets or being able to access alternative sources of inputs overseas,” Rodolfo said.

“Therefore, the APECTR seeks to address this problem,” he added.

The APECTR expands the information available to the public from APEC Tariff and Rules of Origin Website (WebTR) which provides tariff data only to other trade-related information including most favored nation (MFN) tariff rates, preferential tariff rates, rules of origin, best practices in trade facilitation, domestic trade and customs laws and regulations, procedure and documentary requirements, Authorized
Economic Operators, and other trade measures.

Rodolfo mentioned that the new virtual trade repository of the forum will be collaboratively maintained by the APEC Secretariat and the Philippine Government with commitments from 20 other member economies to provide their latest trade data.
The APECTR is accessible through tr.apec.org. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

APEC senior officials endorses Boracay action agenda implementation plan
Senior officials of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) endorsed the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs (BAA-MSME) implementation plan during the APEC Concluding Senior Officials Meeting (CSOM) on Friday.

“Our collaborative efforts to grow dynamic and global MSMEs are making headway. APEC member economies have managed to move this agenda forward during the previous meetings and more work lies ahead,” Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said during the endorsement.

“The implementation plan is a milestone and a necessary step to build on the gains in APEC,” he added.

APEC member economies already endorsed the BAA-MSMEs during the ministerial meeting held in Boracay in May this year.

The BAA-MSMEs contains specific, concrete interventions as well as programs that will facilitate the integration of MSMEs in international markets, through global value chains.

The document, introduced during the 3rd Senior Officials Meeting (SOM3), also identifies initiatives geared towards addressing trade and non-trade barriers faced by MSMEs in international trade.

It also identifies specific measures that should be adopted by member economies, private sector, and other stakeholders to support MSME development.

MSMEs constitute the backbone of the 21 APEC member economies, comprising more than 90 percent of economic activity in the region.

The BAA-MSMEs aims to contribute to the total employment and productivity of APEC economies through trade facilitation, information and communication technology (ICT) and e-commerce, financing and institutional support.

Member economies will continue to discuss issues to ensure that all participants benefit from the programs even after the Philippines’ hosting.

“The implementation plan meets the diverse needs of MSMEs and provides an enabling framework for them to go global. Placing the MSME agenda ‘front and center’ in the discussions in APEC through the BAA-MSMEs will certainly enhance the competitiveness and productivity of our local enterprises and contribute to realizing inclusive growth,” Domingo said. PND (as)

President of Chile in Manila for APEC Summit
MANILA) Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Sunday arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

Bachelet is the first to arrive among the 18 leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) attending the conference that seeks to expand trade and investment among the countries in the Pacific Rim.

APEC is made up of 21 member-economies: APEC is made up of 21 member-economies: Australia, Brunei, Canada Chile, China, Chinese Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.

The Philippines is hosting this year’s APEC. (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)

Female judges could be effective in fighting corruption in judiciary, says Chief Sereno
Female judges tend to be less prone to corruption than male judges in most of the developing countries trying to get rid of corruption in the judiciary, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno said on Friday.

In her opening remarks during the ABAC’s Women’s Luncheon, Sereno, the first female Chief Justice of the SC, said there is a general consensus among members of the judiciary in most of the gatherings she attended about the perception that female judges are less engaged in corruption than male judges.

“Gender was not even an issue there. But in judiciaries that are still trying to bring its standard of performance to the highest level of a corruption-free regime, the struggle to clean the ranks of the judiciary is more winnable with women being in strong leadership positions and with more women presence,” Sereno told the participants during Friday’s gathering.

“And that was generally agreed to by a simple theory backed up at the moment by survey perceptions and total evidence that female judges tend to be less prone to corruption than male judges,” she added.

Although it needs to be validated, the simple theory is that: Women judges shun the nightlife. They usually proceed to attend to family or community responsibilities after work whether it is to attend to children, parents or church activities, she said, adding in such a setting, it is difficult to strike a deal.

Another interesting point raised by Sereno is the ability of female managers or leaders to rebound from a crisis situation more effectively than men.

“If there is still this glass ceiling that exists for women, why in crisis situation is it perceived that women are preferred to solve and turn around businesses from going over the cliff?” She asked.

She mentioned a survey that asked respondents about their preferences for effective managers.

When a business is being run well by a male, the preference is for a male successor. But if a business is being run by a male and it is in distress, then the clear preference was for the female to get the situation again in hand and to prevent the company from collapsing, she said.

“So I thought that we had to study the problem because it might actually be an indication that women can solve crises better in some situations that in tough difficult socially complicated situations such as in developing countries that are facing corruption,” she said.

“Women may tend to make better judgments like our anecdotal stories about women judges. And that there is something really about the female’s style of management that must be recognized by mainstream business literature and by mainstream documents regarding the structuring of economies.” (PCOO-APEC Communications Team)