SEC helps raise P5.4-B sustainability bonds

Published November 30, 2021, 1:20 PM

by James A. Loyola

The Securities & Exchange Commission has facilitated the raising of P5.4-billion sustainable bonds following its efforts to promote sustainability in the Philippine corporate sector.

This is according to SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong in his welcome remarks during the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines’ webinar entitled “Sustainability Ensures the Future of Companies.”


“Among the initiatives we have championed in conjunction with fellow ASEAN regulators, are the adoption of the ASEAN Green, Social and Sustainability Bond Standards – which were developed by the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF), the grouping of all ASEAN Capital Market regulators,” he said.

Amatong noted that, “Since the adoption of the ASEAN Standards, we have seen the rapid growth of the Philippine sustainable bond market led mainly by the private sector.”

To date, total Philippine sustainable bond issuances stand at $5.4 billion equivalent – both on and offshore –issued by Philippine banks as well as renewable energy, infrastructure and real estate companies.

SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong

The SEC has also instituted sustainability reporting for publicly-listed companies and has been a supporter of the principles of the Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) since July 2020.

The Sustainability Reporting Guidelines for Publicly-Listed Companies published in February 2019 are intended to help Publicly Listed Companies assess and manage non-financial performance across economic, environmental and social aspects of their organization and enable them to measure and monitor their contributions towards achieving universal targets of sustainability.

“Despite the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines being on a ‘comply or explain’ basis for the first three years; and despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, the compliance rates of Publicly Listed Companies have been very high,” Amatong said.

As of September 2021, he said, 93.3 percent of publicly listed companies have submitted their 2020 Sustainability Reports and 90.77 percent have submitted their 2019 Sustainability Reports.

The SEC has also been actively working together with fellow government agencies in the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group for Sustainable Finance – also as known as the “Green Force.”

Last October, the government launched the Philippine Sustainable Finance Roadmap and Guiding Principles developed by the Green Force with the support of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.

The objectives incorporated in the Philippine Sustainable Finance Roadmap optimize the public sector’s strengths – policy development and concessional, albeit limited, funds – to “crowd in” the substantial amounts of private capital looking for financial and social returns, in order to transition the Philippine economy to become more sustainable, inclusive and resilient.

At the regional level, in addition to the Roadmap for ASEAN Sustainable Capital Markets – which provides strategic direction and guidance for ASEAN Member States – ASEAN has just recently released Version 1 of the ASEAN Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance (ASEAN Taxonomy).

Amatong said this document will provide a frame for discussions among official sector and private sector stakeholders to work together on the development of the ASEAN Sustainable Finance Taxonomy, which will serve as a reference point to guide capital and funding towards activities that can help promote the systemic transformation and transition needed for the region.