Korea’s contribution to co-prosperity through CSR
DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Han Dong-Man (The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2018 - 12:00am

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” This statement from former United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill speaks of how one cannot rise to be a leader in the global stage without being involved in its problems. I believe this statement also applies to how great businesses should do its part in addressing societal issues. This is why firms engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. For the last few decades, CSR models and practices have developed from mere philanthropic activities by heads of corporations to the integration of sustainable value-creating activities to corporate strategies.

On Oct. 24, 2018, the Korean embassy held the 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards for Korean Companies in the Philippines. Some key figures of the Philippine government, such as Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential Advisor for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Charito Plaza have attended the Awards. In the ceremony, 13 Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics, Korea Electric Power Corp., and Hyundai Construction in the Philippines were honored for their various CSR activities and impact to the local community. Also, Ayala Corporation which has integrated its CSR activities with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) joined and shared with us how they implemented their CSR programs.

The Awards took place at a very timely juncture where our bilateral relationship is stronger than ever. It also served as an exemplary model for our cooperation. The deep ties between two countries began in the 1950s when the Philippines dispatched 7,420 soldiers during the Korean War. In the war’s aftermath, the Philippines has sent technicians and engineers to help build gymnasiums and government complexes. As Korea’s economy developed and flourished thereafter, our ties solidified. Currently, Korea is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner and top source of foreign tourists. We also have supported each other in the international community in various areas such as North Korea issues.

To strengthen our amicable relationship, the Korean government has pursued various official development assistance (ODA) projects, while Korean companies have made substantial investments in the Philippines. However, I believe that CSR activities by Korean companies have touched the hearts of Filipinos more.

 Since my appointment as the Ambassador to the Philippines last January, I have already visited almost all of the regions in the Philippines. On each occasion, I had the opportunity to visit and witness how these firms and entrepreneurs not only do their regular business operations but also actively implement their CSR activities. They have built smart classrooms and homes, and offered scholarships for local students and their families. They have also provided humanitarian assistance for the victims of the battle in Marawi and of natural disasters such as typhoon Mangkhut.

I truly believe that CSR activities are indeed a win-win solution and mutually beneficial for Korean companies and the people of the Philippines. Korean companies can expand their business opportunities by gaining support from the local community. These activities also contribute to improving the daily life of Filipinos and national development. Hence, I decided to share their activities with the people of the Philippines through the Awards – to let them know that Korea’s help and cooperation are testaments to how Korea remains as a friend of the Philippines.

In the era of rapid changes, Korea and the Philippines are on the same boat navigating a long journey for co-prosperity as well as stability and peace. I hope that more and substantial CSR activities by Korean companies in the Philippines in the future will be instrumental in making this boat sail faster and further.

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