THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently celebrated its 83rd anniversary. I am proud to share some of its significant accomplishments this year.
First, the Revised Corporation Code (RCC) was finally signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 20, thanks to the efforts of the House of Representatives, the Senate and advocates in the SEC. I, as an SEC commissioner, was lucky enough to be in Malacañang to witness the President sign the RCC into law. Upon its publication in two newspapers, the law took effect on February 23.
The RCC is considered a landmark piece of legislation, since it practically overhauled our nearly four-decade-old Corporation Code of the Philippines, which was approved on May 1, 1980.
Second, the commission received an award from the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang on March 3. The PACC is not only tasked to investigate alleged government corruption, but to also recognize the collaborative efforts of different partner-agencies for the development of their own system processes.
The SEC was cited for innovative measures undertaken in the delivery of public service that contributed to the curtailment of corruption in government, particularly the implementation of the Company Registration System (CRS). Moreover, the SEC is consistently part of the top agencies perceived to be the most sincere in fighting corruption in surveys conducted by Social Weather Stations.
Third, the commission ranked among the 10 best performing government agencies, according to the latest Executive Outlook Survey conducted by the Makati Business Club in partnership with the Management Association of the Philippines. The poll asked 100 executives from 100 companies on whether they were satisfied with the performances of 69 government agencies.
Fourth, the SEC attained ISO 9001:2015 certification and received it on January 31 from TÜV Rheinland Philippines Inc. The certification was in recognition of the commission’s compliance with the international standard for a quality management system (QMS). The commission’s QMS currently covers the registration of partnerships and corporations doing business in the Philippines and licensing of capital market institutions and professionals.
It is worth reiterating what SEC Chairman Emilio Aquino said before: “My pursuit now is to innovate and upgrade the commission’s services to the point that every SEC stakeholder would affirm that ‘It’s easy at SEC!’ And so, this ISO 9001:2015 certification is but the beginning of our reform journey toward a greater and bolder SEC as the gateway to Philippine business.”
Fifth, the SEC has been a major contributor to the improved ranking of the Philippines in the Doing Business 2020 Report by the World Bank Group. The Philippines climbed 29 spots to 95th place out of 190 economies from 124th previously. Its overall score improved to 62.8 from 57.68 points — the most significant among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
On protecting minority investors, the Philippines recorded the biggest improvement, rising 60 spots to 72nd place from 132nd, and raised its score to 60.0 from 43.33 points.
Sixth, the SEC received an unqualified opinion from the Commission on Audit that it upholds transparency, accountability and efficiency in the use of taxpayers’ money. For anyone in government, this is quite a difficult feat to achieve. The opinion is considered the outcome of an auditor’s review of the organization’s financial statements. Thus, to secure an unqualified opinion, the SEC’s financial performance/accounts, in all their material respects, need to conform with the Philippine Public Sector Accounting Standards and be fairly presented.
Finally, with the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines for Publicly Listed Companies recently issued through Memorandum Circular 4, Series of 2019, the SEC received the ISAR Honors 2019 from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) in Geneva, Switzerland on October 30. Chairman Aquino, together with laywer Rachel Esther Gumtang-Remalante, officer-in-charge of the Corporate Governance and Finance Department, and securities specialist Karen Rocha, attended the important event and received the honors.
Launched in 2018, the ISAR Honors seek to support efforts on enhancing the quality and comparability of companies’ reporting on sustainability issues and on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its usefulness for monitoring the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Unctad recognized the SEC for promoting best practices in sustainability and reporting on these goals.
Allow me to quote Chairman Aquino once more: “We are indeed elated and grateful for our recognition as one of the top recipients of the ISAR. While we, the Philippine SEC, consider our Sustainability Reporting initiative as a reward in itself, coupled with our belief that the responsibility to create a sustainable environment is an imperative that need not even be in our regulations, as it seeks the preservation of humankind, we accept this award with gratification as it would serve as an impetus to galvanize other organizations in our part of the world to take the same route and pursue this noble aim with much resolve.”
I would like to thank the whole SEC team for its continuing efforts to provide government service to the public. It is the SEC employee — whether he or she is a securities specialist or assistant director or commissioner — who contributes much to the SEC’s success. May we continue to work together as a team, unified by our goal of delivering efficient government service to the public and to promote ease of doing business.
Happy 83rd anniversary, SEC!
Kelvin Lester K. Lee is a commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He is the co-chairman of the SEC Committee on Memorandum Circulars to Operationalize Revised Corporation Code Provisions. The views and opinions stated herein are his own. You may email comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.