Remarks by Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell
at the 2nd Integrity Summit - Driving Culture Change
18 September 2012
Chairman of Integrity Initiative, Mr. Ramon del Rosario, Jr., Members of the Diplomatic Corps Your Excellencies, Partners from Government, Friends from Business, Civil Society and Media, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you briefly about matters on which Australia places high priority, an Embassy Perspective, if you like. On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to congratulate all of you, organisers of and participants in this Integrity Summit, for your continued commitment to institutionalising good governance across a range of public and private sectors in the Philippines.
I would also like to extend my congratulations to The Asia Foundation (TAF) and the Social Weather Stations (SWS) for the launch of this year’s 2012 Enterprise Survey on Corruption. Since 2000, the SWS has surveyed enterprises to promote transparency and accountability in the government and the private sector, to help build a culture of counter-corruption. The Australian Government is happy to have supported this year’s survey, the tenth under the project, and the first under the administration of President Aquino.
Countering corruption is a priority for the Australian government, and we’re pleased to contribute to broader anti-corruption efforts in the Philippines. We recognise that surveys are a crucial tool for measuring public views on corruption, and then communicating back to policy makers about how the public would like their government to be more accountable.
The Australian Embassy in Manila (through the Australian Trade Commission, Austrade) has been working closely with business – through the Australian New Zealand Chamber of Commerce – to raise awareness of their obligations under Australian law – specifically Australia’s anti-bribery legislation. I am proud to acknowledge the presence here today of respected fellow Australians from the Chamber, John Casey and Peter Wallace.
We Australians strongly believe that “governments that are open and accountable are able to deliver better services to their people”. We advocate for “social accountability and improving relationships between the state and society”. Early this year, the Governments of Australia and the Philippines jointly committed to working together within a new development cooperation program. Australia and the Philippines agreed to promote accountable, transparent and effective governance with the aim of ensuring that resources are effectively and efficiently used to deliver public goods.
AusAID , Australia’s international development agency, has partnered with The Asia Foundation not only for the 2012 Enterprise Survey, but on many other initiatives that will facilitate partnerships between civil society organisations, the private sector and the government. Our 3-year partnership with The Asia Foundation, which includes a ‘Coalitions for Change’ program, means that we are working with stakeholders to advocate jointly for strengthening governance in the Philippines.
Last year, AusAID also launched a new Public Financial Management program. Through this program, we are assisting the Philippines Government to be more accountable when it comes to public spending—we are supporting the Government to improve processes for budgeting and public spending, including on reporting back to the public quickly and accurately. In partnership with the Affiliated Network of Social Accountability (ANSA), AusAID is supporting some civil society organisations to observe public procurement processes, and conducting independent local monitoring activities of government projects. We are encouraged by results from these activities, the presence of community volunteers in critical phases of the procurement and contract implementation serve as pressure points that oblige suppliers to quickly rectify deficiencies against the technical specifications.
Through another AusAID initiative, the Provincial Roads Management Facility (PRMF), we work with ten (10) provincial governments to ensure transparent, participative and accountable competitive bidding. As part of strengthening government procurement systems, the Provincial Roads Management Facility has supported the provinces in the strengthening of records management and complaints handling systems, cost databases, and electronic procurement systems. The project has also encouraged transparency through improved participation of local civil society organizations in the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) processes.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is also cooperating closely with law enforcement authorities in the Philippines, particularly the Philippines National Police. The AFP has had a presence in the Philippines for 28 years.
These are but some of the ways that Australia seeks to support the Philippines’ own efforts to reduce corruption. It engages several of the eight (8) agencies represented in the Australian Embassy in Manila, which is Australia’s eight largest embassy anywhere in the world.
Our whole-of-government approach to anti-corruption is underpinned by our recognition that overcoming the challenges of corruption is a complex and difficult enterprise. It requires commitment across multiple sectors, from a range of groups AND individuals. We commend the Aquino administration’s commitment to rebuilding a relationship of trust between the Philippine people and their government. We are optimistic that the recent reforms we have witnessed — such as those in the judiciary and the ombudsman’s office; improvements in revenue and customs collections and in tax administration; and more open processes in budgeting — will deliver positive long-lasting results.
I would also like to highlight the equally noteworthy efforts outside government, those initiated by business and by private and civil society groups such as groups present here today, that significantly contribute to building integrity when it comes to doing business in the Philippines. We hope that your successes will encourage more stakeholders, especially in the private sector, to take action to reduce corruption in their sectors.
In closing, let me reiterate my appreciation of your work to address corruption and improve governance in the Philippines. Australia is pleased to play its own small role in this important endeavour.
Thank you very much.