THERE are two key words frequently blossoming out of the mouths of our politicians these days whenever they face the electorate in a rally or a caucus, and before the media men and women during a press conference, or when they are being interviewed in radio, on television or for the dailies: poverty and environment, and to a lesser degree, economic development.

For my purposes this time, I would just concentrate on poverty and the environment.

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What really drew me to this topic is the covey of figures I read in a daily a few days ago which brought to focus the notion of corporate responsibility and corporate citizenship. The latter phrase I read in a copy of a media briefing by an official of the Cebu Energy Development Corp.

The data on poverty could prick the conscience of someone who started life as among the group our society calls the poor.

The figures indicated that the first 1,000 corporations in the country enjoyed a 21 percent rise in annual corporate profits, while their ROI or return on investments increased by 15 percent annually since President Arroyo took the helm of government.

Consequently, their total earnings “amounted to P3.1 trillion of which P2.1 trillion was pocketed as dividends” as stockholders earnings.

It reminds me that the total corporate income of these firms in the country alone is about the same as the approved general appropriations law of the government this year. Of the total amount of profit, only P1 trillion was reinvested or returned to the money stream to expand the firms’ corporate operation or to generate new jobs and employment.

But surprisingly, for the first time, I heard the phrase corporate responsibility, and corporate citizenship. Aboitiz Group president Erramon Aboitiz was reported as saying that to a corporate organization the balance of people, profit, and planet is important.

During the media visit last Sunday to the CEDC coal-fired power plant in Toledo City, CEDC head Jess Alcordo said their group is committed not just to provide reliable power to the Cebuanos, but to show their steadfast commitment to good corporate citizenship and to their vow to leave a sustainable legacy to the province…not only generate and sustain jobs, but also by planting hectares and hectares of trees as far as the eyes can see.

There was a time I used to subscribe to the then apt American corporate ugly name as carpetbaggers. It took sometime to change this public impression. I like to think the Cebu business community has finally developed a definite and lasting corporate conscience.