THE Northern Mindanao's Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF-Elcac) has urged business sectors in the region to adopt a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) focusing on the reduction of communist presence in communities.
This was the highlight of the Forum on CSR for Sustainable Peace and Inclusive Development on Wednesday, where the military and other government agencies comprising the RTF-Elcac invited business leaders and representatives from the private sector.
Seceretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., National Peace Adviser, said the event was a first in the country and will likely be replicated in other regions.
Esperon said he was elated with the "warm reception" from business leaders, who welcomed the possibility of integrating their CSR programs with the government poverty-reduction initiatives aimed at countering the communist New People's Army (NPA).
"We have been partners with the civilians [in the RTF-Elcac], but we are expanding the partnership by inviting the business sector to visit the communities," he said.
Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, who also serves as the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (Cords) for Northern Mindanao, said the "whole of nation approach" must also include the private sector.
"We leave the manner and form of this authentically renovated corporate social responsibility to the respective wisdom and expertise of our corporate partners," Andanar told the over 400 participants.
The forum was also joined by local officials and representatives from national line agencies, including military officials from the 1st and 4th Infantry Divisions.
Dr. Irene Floro, president of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce, expressed interest in the concept of a public-private partnership in addressing the country's long-running insurgency problem.
"We [in the business sector] already have CSRs in the past, but this time is better because it's given emphasis [on the reduction of NPA influence in communities]," she said.
Floro said President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order 70, which institutionalizes the "whole of nation approach" in ending the communist insurgency, was "timely" as it could help protect investors while addressing peace and order.
Steag State Power Inc. communications officer Jerome Soldevilla said they are glad to take part in the conversation exploring the role of CSR in contributing to the government's goal of reducing poverty in rebel-infested communities.
"Through the years, Steag has always been at the forefront of CSR efforts because we believe it is the right thing to do. The role of business has expanded beyond creating shareholder value to addressing shared concerns on peace-building, inclusive social development, and environmental conservation," Soldevilla said.