Delivered by BCBP President Joey Avellana during the BBC general assembly last January 26, 2017
The Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) has, since its inception in 1980 as an Outreach of the Ligaya ng Panginoon community, been involved with the evangelization of the marketplace.
By inviting business leaders, executives and working professionals initially though a breakfast fellowship, then later by completing a Christian Life Program (CLP), the proposition of bringing the values of Jesus Christ in the business milieu has taken root in the BCBP.
Today, the BCBP community number over 20,000 members in over 100 business centers in the major cities all over the Philippines, with presence in 4 Asian countries and In the US and Canada.
The world of business, often characterized as a dog-eat-dog environment, is home to many unfair, exploitative and oftentimes unscrupulous business dealings.
Padding of expenses and receipts, under-the-table deals, bribes, mis-declaration and misrepresentation of goods and services, even tax evasion were some of the manifestations of these.
Over the years, it became evident that honest business practices were already becoming a pervasive problem, as graft and corrupt business practices were fast becoming “de riguer” for conducting business in both the private and public sectors.
To make matters worse, it appeared that most of the citizenry seemed to be disaffected by these unsavory practices.
Even as a country the Philippines was cast in a bad light for being among those most dishonest or graft-ridden countries in the world.
One day in 2003, at a meeting of one of the business clubs, Santiago “Santi” Dumlao, one of the stalwarts of the Makati Business Club and a former member of the BBC, was sitting beside Bro. Bobby Lavina, a colleague who was then BCBP Director for Programs and Services during the term of then BCBP president Manolet Siojo.
Santi shared with him a quotation about honesty which immediately got Bobby to ask him “would you allow BCBP to use this quotation publicly without any attribution to the source?” Santi’s reply was immediate– “Sure!”
And with that, the BE HONEST campaign was born.
The single-minded message—
EVEN IF OTHERS ARE NOT.
EVEN IF OTHERS WILL NOT.
EVEN IF OTHERS CANNOT.
THE BHC ROLL-OUT
Even before we launched it as a campaign, some BCBP members were cynical that it may be something we could not actually do nor claim, especially since we ourselves, businessmen and professionals, were part of the “real world”, so to speak. (Some members were struggling with the idea of having to walk the talk!)
It was our leaders’ wise discernment that, as a Christian community committed to bringing the Gospel values of Jesus Christ in the workplace, we had no option but to take on the campaign as a community-wide advocacy.
The launching of the Be Honest Campaign (BHC) was done simultaneously in all regions of the BCBP nationwide.
Motorcades, Walkathons and collaterals with the BHC slogan were put up in major public areas.
As the campaign unraveled, the peaen for HONESTY spread like wildfire.
It found its way into government offices, airports, bridges, and every town or city with a BCBP community presence.
BCBP members who worked in the public sector were co-opted as conduits for the BHC collaterals and slogans that were put up in government offices and installations.
Over the years, the BE HONEST campaign took on other forms —
— a national oratorical contest among high-school students
— BE HONEST fun-runs in key cities nationwide
— Fund-raisers like concerts, golf tournaments, etc.
— BE HONEST drop-down banners in all BCBP weekly breakfasts
EVOLVING THE BE HONEST ADVOCACY
Alongside the all-out launch of the BE HONEST campaign, the BCBP leadership looked for other ways to extend the reach of the advocacy, so that it could have greater impact on the community-at-large.
It was also a way for our members to become more fully engaged in being part of the larger effort of changing mindsets and paradigms not only in the public view, but equally important, in their own personal lives and business practices.
HONESTY AND THE ELECTIONS
BCBP entered into a memorandum of understanding with the COMELEC and PPCRV to further its BE HONEST advocacy in the course of the local and national elections.
The BCBP has been part of the voter’s education program all local and national elections conducted since 2004.
Our members have continued to make themselves available for voter education, poll-watching and even leading diocesan and parish-based activities in their respective communities.
PARTNERING WITH THE BBC and LAIKO
BCBP also joined the program of the BBC and Makati Business Club by volunteering our members as independent observers to the bidding of public contracts of government institutions.
Quite a number of questionable projects were discontinued because of the lack of transparency and other graft-ridden bid procedures that were unearthed by these independent observers.
THE INTEGRITY INITIATIVE
Though our linkages with the business community, BCBP was also invited to join the INTEGRITY INITIATIVE, a joint project of the Makati Business Club and the European Chamber of the Philippines.
BCBP is a signatory to the Integrity Pledge, and actively participates in conferences, fora and activities of the group.
We also encourage our members who are business owners to register individually, and their businesses as corporate members, of Integrity Initiative.
In 2014, on the 10th anniversary of the BE HONEST campaign, the community embarked on another bold initiative that was inspired by the BHC.
It was a turning point for the HONESTY advocacy, because it went a step forward to try and delve deeper into the roots of corruption in the private and business sectors through linkages with the academe and the business community.
Together with three other convenors, namely Atty. Alex Lacson, Prof. Ron Mendoza of AIM and former Senator Joey Lina, the BCBP embarked on a 6-part forum series entitled CONFRONTING CORRUPTION, together with the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Policy Center and Alumni Association, and the local chambers of business.
The CONFRONTING CORRUPTION series brought together businessmen and professionals in jampacked fora held in Makati, Laguna, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Davao and Manila over an 8 month period.
It surfaced the clear need for the BCBP community to be more involved, not just as a bystander or campaign promoter.
In every forum presentation, the same question kept coming up— What will we do about corruption besides talk about it??
Thus the BCBP ventured into uncharted territory where its HONESTY advocacy would be tested anew.
The very clear message was– we needed to do more, we needed to be engaged and show that HONESTY is something we need to uphold as integral to our way of life.
PMTL: Changing the Face of Politics
In June 2015 the original convenors of the CONFRONTING CORRUPTION project came together again and asked, “how else can we be more effective in bringing the culture of honesty and integrity to our people?”
Atty. Alex Lacson brought an idea to the group, to move forward what he and other concerned groups had been working on, a criteria for choosing the right leaders to arrest the decaying of our country’s moral and political institutions.
So we brought together a small group composed of BCBP leaders and some key leaders from our partners-in-mission (Ligaya ng Panginoon, Couples for Christ and FAMILIA) and we brainstormed.
In the following months, the group continued to put together the framework for a nationwide movement that would institutionalize the concept of Christian servant leadership in the public service. This gave birth to the PILIPINO MOVEMENT FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP (PMTL).
It called all the major Christian blocs– Catholic, Protestant, Born-again– to rally behind a common 20 point criteria for choosing transformed Christian servant leaders molded in the image of Jesus Christ.
We called the PMTL guide GABAY KRISTO.
The task before the convenors of the PMTL was formidable, because time was not on our side and we had to launch this before the end of 2015, to convince those servant leaders we vetted as capable of transforming the political landscape, before the deadline of the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy (COC).
The rest is history. PMTL was able to help elect into office the candidates vetted in the process undertaken by the People’s Choice organization– a Vice President and four senators.
HEEDING POPE FRANCIS: GET INVOLVED
Answering Pope Francis’ call for the Christian faithful to be engaged in politics, calling such gesture “the highest form of charity, if done for the common good”, BCBP brothers and sisters were encouraged (if they had the predisposition for it) to vie for the public’s support in the 2016 elections.
After the votes were counted, 68 BCBP brothers and sisters were successful in their political forays in the local and regional levels. It is a start, and we hope that the roots of transformational leadership will, like the proverbial mustard seed, grow into a strong deeply rooted tree that can withstand the test of time.
At this juncture, in behalf of the BCBP community, may I thank Most Reverend Bishop Broderick Pabillo for his invitationto our BCBP public servants to a weekend retreat to prepare them spiritually for the service they have to perform for their constituencies as public servants.
TAKING THE BHC FORWARD
The BE HONEST advocacy will continue to be a major project of the BCBP as it continues to engage the marketplace and the public-at-large.
We commit BCBP to be at the forefront of initiatives that will champion, defend, and celebrate the values of HONESTY and INTEGRITY in our midst.
It is not only the right thing to do, but more importantly, it is the way Jesus wants us to live, honestly speaking.
EVEN IF OTHERS ARE NOT.
EVEN IF OTHERS WILL NOT.
EVEN IF OTHERS CANNOT.
Thank you and good afternoon.