The latest downpours came during what is known as the "rainy season", with the majority of the precipitation falling in August; so in that sense, it was not unexpected. This is after the preceding month saw heavy winds and rains, resulting in yet another 53 people dead. What was unexpected, however, was that depending on the source, upwards of 2 million people were displaced.
In terms of fatalities, as bad as it was, the past storm system was not that deadly. In December, for example, Tropical Storm Washi (Typhoon Sendong) left more than 1,200 people dead and set off flash floods that swept away entire villages in the southern Philippines.
But again, this storm was different. Unlike the devastation to the south, this storm ploughed straight into one of the biggest metropolitan areas of the world. The result: transportation systems were virtually at a standstill, with government sources stating that as much as 80% of Metro Manila was affected. This area was one of the hardest hit during the historic flooding that came with Tropical Storm Ketsana (Typhoon Ondoy) in 2009.
This storm impacted business and financial centers, and the very hub of government itself. No government or private sector firm was left unscathed.
The rains and flooding for the past few days have created a heightened awareness of the lack of preparedness of the Philippines, and has affected outsourcing operations in Metro Manila, through disruption of service and the lack of human resources to run operations.
The Malacanang order on Aug. 7, 2012 (Memorandum Circular No. 33-A, s. 2012) reinforced the immediate need for an active governance model, which provides a structure for dialogue and decision-making; where BPAP (Business Processing Association of the Philippines) and industry leaders must participate in and coordinate with during times of crisis. The lack of governance will continually fail to adequately consider or document the critical needs of the outsourcing sector, which the President may have failed to appreciate.
As more work is outsourced to the Philippines, business needs and globalization are forcing investments in real-time applications and human resources to fulfill business processes 24/7. This is rapidly transforming business continuity planning requirements. Therefore, it is incumbent upon outsourcing service providers and captives to have a workable and effective business continuity plan in place, and address "return to normalcy" practices. However, what if offices were suspended during a tropical depression such as the one witnessed last Aug. 7 despite the availability of the technology and facilities?
During a crisis, personnel safety comes first and is a non-negotiable element. Missing, however, in the Philippines, is a crisis management plan specifically focused on "keeping the lights on" for every business. Looking back at the Japanese tsunami experience of 2011, this country's government had a "business as usual" attitude. Despite the cumulative effects of the calamity and the painstaking recovery process, the Japanese government helped mobilize thousands of workers to continually keep business operations running. More importantly, the Japanese government did not deter businesses from continuing operations.
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