May 2023

SGV Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) Senior Associate Jouelle Hannah Nerveza was the resource speaker in a Thought Leadership Series session entitled “Building Professionals for Sustainability and Climate Action” held at Mapúa Malayan Colleges Laguna (MCL) on 11 May 2023. Jouelle talks about building professionals for sustainability and climate action Jouelle gave an introduction on sustainability and its relevance to society. She discussed the four pillars of sustainability - economic, environment, social and governance - and its drivers - regulators and government, investors, NGOs and communities, employees, customers, and private entities. She also shared her path towards sustainability and some significant global and local developments on sustainability reporting. She introduced SGV and CCaSS and shared some of SGV’s sustainability initiatives particularly the formation of the Sustainable Actions for Value Creation and Enablement (SAVE) Council, which aims to help drive and integrate sustainability in the Firm. She also talked about the publication of SGV’s Sustainability Report including Beyond the Bottom Line: Sustainability Reporting in the Philippines, which contains a review of Philippine publicly listed companies’ sustainability reports, as well as discussions on global and local developments around environmental, social, and governance (ESG). Jouelle Nerveza with Mapúa MCL’s Vice President Prof. James Ronald Mesina and the onsite participants Jouelle concluded her presentation by highlighting how different professionals have the opportunity to apply their respective experiences in leading sustainability initiatives. She also encouraged the participants to start their journey towards sustainability.
SGV Technology Consulting Partner Warren R. Bituin (WRB), Indirect Tax (IDT) Senior Director Atty. Alden Patrick C. Labaguis, and IDT Senior Associate Atty. Natividad G. Busa attended the “Safeguarding the Future: Perspectives on Cybersecurity Readiness” CEO Forum conducted by the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) and co-sponsored by EY Global Delivery Services (GDS) Philippines on 10 May 2023. About 50 C-level Executives of IBPAP member organizations, IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry leaders, investors, policymakers, and other stakeholders participated in the joint event held at Shangri-La, The Fort.  Event poster Warren together with the Leader and Executive Director of EY Global Delivery Services Philippines Digital and Emerging Technologies Marilene “Malen” Tayag, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Philippines Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) Activity Chief of Party John Garrity, and Head of Macquarie Offshore Services Pty. Ltd. Manila Office Eric Yaptangco led the panel discussion. Safeguarding the Future: Perspectives on Cybersecurity Readiness panel Warren commenced the panel discussion by giving a brief background about cybersecurity and its different domains. He shared information about the Philippine cybersecurity landscape, innovations which organizations can leverage on, and areas where organizations can invest to protect their key information assets, and how leaders can help the industry to take the next steps toward transformation. He emphasized that cybersecurity is not limited to Information Technology (IT) and highlighted that it is about promoting trust in the organization’s products and services and the protection of its brand. He further explained that creating the right governance structure for cyber management and investing in the right security solutions are the major areas where organizations can invest to protect their information assets. He also highlighted the crucial role of preparing and developing strategies in managing the risks of cybersecurity breach. Other panelists, Malen and John, shared their knowledge on the different areas in cybersecurity that organizations should be concerned about. The members of the panel also addressed questions from the participants during the open forum.  Technology Sector Leader Manolito R. Elle (MRE) coordinated participation in the event. Warren and Atty. Alden thanked IBPAP, EY Global Delivery Services Philippines, and the participants and ensured them that SGV is always eager to participate in subsequent events with the organization.
EY Latin America North Tax Technology & Innovation Leader Luis D. Beltran Farias (Mexico), Tax Policy for Government Services Partner Richard Stern (US), and Asean Tax Leader Amarjeet Singh (Malaysia) together with SGV Tax Leader Fabian K. Delos Santos (FKS), SGV Clark Partner-In-Charge and Head Margaux A. Advincula (MAA), and Tax Partners Cheryl Edeline C. Ong (CCO) and Thyrza F. Marbas (TFM) joined a Consultative Meeting with the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on the Digital Transformation Initiatives in ASEAN at the BIR National Office Building (NOB) in Diliman, Quezon City on 19 April 2023. SGV Partners and EY Global and Asean Leaders with BIR leaders and representatives The EY Global and Asean Leaders and consultants from the different regions shared their experiences on the role of tax intermediaries, data analytics, and e-tax audits in the digital transformation of tax administrations. The participants shared insights on how digital solutions can enhance tax collection, reduce fraud, and improve taxpayer experience. The consultative meeting aimed to discuss the digital transformation initiatives in ASEAN and how other countries have implemented them. It also discussed the challenges and opportunities brought about by digital transformation in the ASEAN region and explored ways to leverage technology for tax administration and compliance. 
The SGV Business Tax Services team headed by SGV Tax Partner Cheryl Edeline C. Ong (CCO) held a webinar on “How to Hurdle your BIR Audit” on 28 April 2023. SGV International Tax and Transaction Services (ITTS) Partner Atty. Auresana “Rhena” B. Ines (ABI) was the resource speaker for the webinar which was attended by 175 clients and non-clients from various industries.  SGV Partners and participants during the webinar ABI discussed how to navigate the complexities of BIR audits, providing valuable insights and practical tips to help participants prepare for and successfully hurdle these audits. The topics discussed in the webinar were highly relevant and informative, covering tax issuances and jurisprudence essential for businesses.  SGV Tax Partners Cheryl Edeline C. Ong and Auresana B. Ines (center) with the Business Tax Services team Rhena also delved into common tax audit issues that businesses face, such as discrepancies in financial statements or incomplete documentation. She provided practical tips on how to handle these issues effectively, including maintaining accurate records and responding promptly to audit requests.  Members of the SGV Business Tax Services team Members of the organizing team included Ala Mei T. Domingo, Ernest Adrian F. Co, Jasmine Ann A. Rosit, Katelene D. Alianza, Kara Marie Angela R. Bagunas, Kimberly Camille G. Mendoza, Kristina Mae V. Cueto, Lou Delianne I. Reboja, Marla Arielle B. So, Niño Louis M. Belarma, Ron Christian T. Eupeña, Tom Lui M. Estrella, Wilfred P. Alfeche, Lei Christianne O. Delos Angeles, Honey Grace O. Carlos, and Cristine Limho.
SGV Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) Partner Benjamin “Benjie” N. Villacorte (BNV) was a speaker at the International Climate Partnership 2023: Forum on Reforestation, Waste Management, and Carbon Trading, which was organized by the Climate Change Commission through the Office of Commissioner Albert P. Dela Cruz. The forum was held at the Marriott Hotel, Clark, Pampanga on 2 May 2023. It aimed to address climate emergencies, reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and build adaptive capacities of communities to climate change.  SGV CCaSS Partner Benjamin N. Villacorte receives a plaque of appreciation from His Excellency, Business Management Office of the Embassy of United Arab Emirates in the Philippines Executive Director Zulfiquar Ghadiyali (center) and Climate Change Commissioner Albert dela Cruz (far left) Benjie introduced SGV and its Climate Change and Sustainability Services to local and international participants and discussed the role of accountants and assurance in climate change and how audits are important in preventing greenwashing.  He also talked about the importance of the Internationally Transferred Mitigation Options (ITMOS) and recent developments on carbon markets, particularly the recent adoption of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Benjie highlighted the potential of ITMOS for the Philippines to generate more climate financing and other opportunities to realize its climate ambitions. (From left to right) SGV CCaSS Partner Benjamin N. Villacorte, Associate Director Judd P. Tablazon, and Senior Associates Russel James S. Andrade and Louie Adrianne R. Cediño at the International Climate Partnership 2023 Forum Other experts from Taiwan, Singapore, and the Philippines also shared recent developments on carbon trading while climate partners from the academe, people’s organizations, and local government units also shared their experiences on reforestation, landfill management, and climate education. 
SGV launched the EY STEM program at Rizal High School, Pasig on 26 April 2023 with 600 STEM students in attendance. EY Asean Business Consulting Leader, SGV Consulting Leader, and EY STEM Project Sponsor Rossana A. Fajardo (RAF), EY Asean/APAC Enterprise Risk Competency Leader, SGV Consulting Partner, and EY STEM Program Director Christiane Joymiel “Chin” Say-Mendoza (CSM), and SGV Talent Director and EY STEM Program Manager Luisa Hebron head the program. Rossana and Chin with Rizal High School Assistant Principal Rowena Dimagiba and STEM Department Head Ma. Victoria Señase during the EY STEM program launch Rossana, Chin, and Luisa with Rizal High School STEM Faculty pose for a group photo The EY STEM Girls program was recently launched by EY Ripples and Women in Technology (WiT). It aims to recognize, uplift, and empower the next generation of girls in STEM and help break gender bias. The program also introduced the EY STEM app, a gamified mobile platform where girls aged 13 to 18 can engage in fully digital and real-life activities designed to be played like educational games and activities with high-quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) content to foster an interest in STEM in a way that is exciting and fun as well as explore STEM-related careers. Rossana commenced the launch by giving her opening remarks. She gave a short background of the Firm, its Purpose to nurture future leaders for a better Philippines and its initiatives in helping bridge the STEM gender gap in today’s technologically driven society. RAF also talked more about the app, its launch process, and its goals. RHS STEM Department Head, Ma. Victoria Señase welcomed the SGV representatives and introduced the faculty and STEM sections. Chin and RHS Assistant Principal Rowena Dimagiba gave their respective closing remarks.
Members of the SGV Tax team met with Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Revenue Region 8A – Makati City officials who visited the Firm on 8 March 2023 as part of the BIR’s annual tax kickoff and a follow-up to the 2nd SGV Business Tax Services (BTS) Forum held in February 2023. SGV Tax team with the BIR Revenue Region 8A – Makati City officials SGV Tax Leader Fabian “Fame” K. Delos Santos (FKS) welcomed the BIR officials and facilitated the free-flowing discussion with members of the SGV management committee, partners, senior managers, and staff. Fame reiterated SGV’s continuous commitment to promoting a tax ecosystem where taxpayers are willing to comply; regulators are business partners; tax practitioners are armed with technical skills and integrity; with the Philippines as an investment haven; and where businesses flourish for a Better Philippines.  The BIR delegation was led by Regional Director Florante Aninag, with all the major officers of the Revenue Region as well as heads of the Revenue District Offices under Makati City in attendance, to address some of the concerns of taxpayer-clients within their jurisdiction. Mr. Aninag acknowledged SGV’s crucial role in encouraging taxpayers’ compliance with tax rules and regulations and highlighted the Firm’s invaluable contribution in assisting taxpayers in their dealings with the BIR.  Philippines and Asean Business Tax Services Leader Jules E. Riego (JER), together with BTS Partners Margaux A. Advincula (MAA) and Cheryl C. Ong (CCO), and Markets Leader Vicky L. Salas (VLS) led the open forum with Global Compliance and Reporting (GCR) Leader Sonia D. Segovia (SDS), and Indirect Tax (IDT) Leader Lucil Q. Vicerra (LQV), who also shared their insights on recent changes in the rules on tax-free exchanges, procedures on disposition of cases, and other tax audit concerns including transfer pricing issues. Other Partners in attendance took the opportunity to pose questions to the Revenue District Officers. Assistant Regional Director Editha A. Calipusan, Legal Division Chief Albert C. Arpon, Assessment Division Chief Sion S. Catelo, and Collection Division Chief Anne M. Reyes also attended the session and luncheon hosted by the Firm. Tax Senior Director Donna Frances Ylade-Torres assisted in organizing the event.
SGV Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) and Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) Partner, and Philippine Sustainability Reporting Committee (PSRC) Chairman, Benjamin “Benjie” N. Villacorte (BNV) was a panelist at The Future of Sustainability Reporting forum hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in partnership with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The forum, which was exclusive to executives of publicly listed companies, was held on 14 March 2023 at the SEC Headquarters in Makati. It aimed to bring into focus how the roles of the government and regulators, banking institutions, standard setters, and sustainability leaders interweave to shape the future of sustainability and its reporting.  Benjie (second from right) during the SEC-GRI forum Benjie shared insights on the significance of sustainability reporting and the role of the PSRC in improving and ensuring the quality of sustainability disclosures, carbon credits, the concept of just and reasonable transition, and how practitioners could better engage top management on sustainability reporting. Benjie emphasized that sustainability reporting is part of the future of corporate reporting and that with this type of reporting, the financial and sustainability components of the organization are well-considered and embedded within their policies and processes, and the true costs of pertinent risks and opportunities are measured. He shared that there is currently a disconnect between these aspects and a growing need for them to complement one another. Benjie (first from the right) with the forum organizers, guests, and fellow panelists  Benjie was joined by SEC Commissioner Kelvin Lester Lee and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Financial Supervision Sector Assistant Governor Lyn Javier during the panel discussion. Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Chief Operating Officer Atty. Roel Refran moderated the session. The panel discussion provided relevant and timely insights into further defining and calibrating the strategic direction of businesses sensitive to stakeholder demand-based projections on sustainability. 
SGV Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) and Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) Partner and Philippine Sustainability Reporting Committee (PSRC) Chairman, Benjamin “Benjie” N. Villacorte (BNV) led the PSRC meeting with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) CEO Eelco van der Enden and his team from the GRI ASEAN Regional Hub held at SGV on 13 March 2023. PSRC member representatives also joined BNV in welcoming the GRI delegation. GRI CEO Eelco van der Enden (center) with GRI ASEAN Regional Hub team and PSRC member representatives Mr. van der Enden provided the PSRC with key updates related to the GRI and its collaboration with the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). According to him, the two standard setters have committed to coordinating work programs and standard-setting activities, and talked about the need for further harmonization of the sustainability reporting landscape. He expects that the harmonization of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Sustainability Disclosure Standards and GRI Standards can address distinct perspectives and form a comprehensive corporate reporting regime for the disclosure of sustainability information. GRI CEO van der Enden (center) and GRI ASEAN Regional Hub team with CCaSS Partners Benjamin N. Villacorte (BNV), Katrina F. Francisco (KFF), Clairma T. Mangangey (CSM), Joseph Ian M. Canlas (JMC), and SEC Atty. Rachel Gumtang-Remalante The GRI CEO also highlighted one of GRI’s major plans in the region, the Global Baseline Innovation Hub, as intended to be established with the ISSB. The GRI team addressed queries from the group on the harmonization of reporting standards and its implications for reporting organizations.
SGV Financial Services Organization (FSO) Partner Veronica Mae Arce Balisi (VAB) was a resource speaker at the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist and Proliferation Financing (AML/CTPF) training held on 28 April 2023 via Zoom. This was VAB’s 8th time conducting this session for FINEX Academy. FSO Associate Director Juan Paolo Gaco together with Associates Rubin Hollero II and Coleen Mae Panuela served as facilitator and presenters of the training.  Veronica (top left) with SGV Associate Director Juan Paolo Gaco (lower right), FINEX Academy Treasurer Ned Goseco (top right), and FINEX Capital Markets Development Committee Chairman Manny Ocampo (lower left). FINEX Capital Markets Development Committee Chairman Manny Ocampo delivered the welcome remarks and introduced Veronica as the resource speaker. Veronica formally kicked off the training with a call to action on addressing AML/CTPF risks, highlighting the efforts of the authorities to get out of the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list by January next year.   Veronica gave an overview of money laundering, and terrorist and proliferation financing (ML/TPF) and cited sample typologies and actual cases from the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) that are relevant to the industry. She also discussed different concepts of predicate crimes and unlawful activities, the Philippine legislation and updates on the regulatory landscape, and the primary duties of covered persons or institutions in combatting ML/TPF.  Veronica wrapped up the training session with a message to the attendees on not compromising one’s profession, firm, or company by accepting clients that may be involved in money laundering. She added that covered persons have their own roles that can mitigate AML/CTPF risks, and if they use their power or authority for the right purposes, then these risks can be deterred in the country.