Cebu has established itself as one of the centers of the business process outsourcing (BPO) in the Philippines, if not the world. For some time, Cebu’s BPO sector is known for its leadership in innovation, commitment and services, taking the 12th spot in Tholon’s 20I9 Services Global index, though falling down to 15th place in 2020. The Top 5 Super Cities in 2020 are Bangalore, Sao Paulo, Toronto, Manila and Dublin. Tholons report said that “Cities like Manila, Mumbai, Delhi, Buenos Aires, Cebu, Santiago, Chennai, Hyderabad etc., who have a significant amount of BPO and customer service work, have been hit the hardest and the industry has realized that they cannot only depend on human workers at the time of pandemic.”
There is a danger, though, that in next year’s ranking, Cebu may just go farther down with the incident involving three workers of Sykes Philippines in Cebu who engaged in fraud with scammers in connection with online gift cards that over time amounted to P60 million and converted these into bitcoins. Though the amount is nothing compared to the anomaly under investigation in PhilHealth, the reputation of Cebu has been besmirched. The swift action of the company on the matter may soften the impact of the damage.
Corruption has become endemic in the Philippines. Could it be creeping in the corporate world as well? Lilian Grooten and Gérard Zolt, of Ernst & Young Luxembourg, in an article published on July 5, 2019 in the European Court of Auditors, said that “in the EY annual Global Fraud Survey, in which 2550 executives from 55 countries and territories around the world were interviewed, the responses received clearly demonstrated that fraud and corruption have not decreased globally in the last two years.” This is indeed worrying, with the large-scale scandals that have shaken the business sector, if not the world. In the Philippines, the most notorious are FrancSwiss, Legacy Group, Aman Future, Emgoldex and the most recent, Kapa and Rigen.
Adsum Risk Consulting in a published article entitled, “Corporate Fraud In The Philippines Is Usually An Inside Job” mentioned the internal fraud committed by a vice president of Metrobank who took almost a billion pesos from the bank; and the cybercrime that rocked Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. when millions of dollars stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank were transferred to accounts in a RCBC branch. I’ve worked as an internal auditor earlier in my professional career and the task was to provide independent assurance that an organization’s risk management, governance and internal control processes were operating effectively. We were not forensic investigators out to catch corporate criminals, rather we checked that safeguards were in place to prevent error, if not fraud. At times, dishonesty shows its ugly head when loopholes exist in the system.