House approves Corporate Social Responsibility Act

By Ben Rosario

Indifference to the welfare of society and community among private businesses will end soon as the House of Representatives unanimously passed on final reading a measure that would instill social responsibility to members of the corporate world.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the opening of the Third Regular Session of Congress on Monday. (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN) House Speaker, Pampanga Representative and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

House Bill 9061 or the Corporate Social Responsibility Act was approved Wednesday with 158 congressmen present during the session voting to pass it.

Authored by former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, HB 9061 recognizes the vital role the private sector has to play in nation building. It urges the active participation of corporations in fostering sustainable 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,” she explained.

She noted that while corporate organizations concentrate on their respective returns on investments, many disregard the “impact of their activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and environment”.

In HB 9061, 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.

Among the CSR-related activities listed in the bill are: (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.

The bill directs the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to recognize and reward business organizations for outstanding, innovative, and world-class CSR-related services, projects and programs.

Further, the DTI is directed to 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.