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The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), the enabling organization for the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry in the country, in partnership with the DOST’s Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), held the first IT-BPM Business Resiliency Summit last May in Novotel Manila. The event gathered top industry executives, heads of government agencies involved in Disaster Management, Business Continuity Management (BCM) leads, and other experts in disaster recovery and resiliency from the private sector in an effort to equip and educate delegates about the latest developments in technology, research findings, and global best practices to strengthen capabilities of businesses in the IT-BPM sector in preparing for, responding to, and being resilient to natural calamities.

The day-long summit was divided into three segments - Preparedness, Response, and Recovery and Resiliency, all highlighted by engaging Panel Discussions. It delved into disaster preparedness, proposed the mindset of quick response, and presented groundbreaking strategies and tried-and-tested practices for integrating community resiliency into business resiliency.

In his keynote speech, Rainerio ‘Bong’ Borja, President and Country Head of Expert Global Solutions (EGS), shared his firsthand experience on how EGS exercised quick response to help employees who became victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte and discussed the importance of driving business resiliency and prioritizing people in the face of devastating natural disasters.

How ready are we?

Speaking on Disaster Preparedness and Resiliency, Dr. Goh Moh Heng, President of Business Continuity Management (BCM) Institute of Singapore, explained that business continuity management is crisis management and emphasized the value of turning business process continuity practices into standard operating procedure to enable business operations to rapidly adapt and respond to internal and external dynamic changes.

“We’re not designed to work together. In a disaster, we work together…but we don’t do that daily and that’s the work that you need to do – make people work together even without a disaster. That’s business continuity,” Goh said.

Executive Director of the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH), Dr. Alfredo Mahar Lagmay spoke on disaster risks, vulnerabilities, and preparing for the “Next Big One” if and when it hits Metro Manila.

Lagmay also shared success stories from disasters that were averted with the help of the DOST’s scientifically-advanced sensors that warned people of impending floods and other possible dangers ahead of time, and earthquake risk maps that showed the location of fault lines and where it would be safe for people to go, saving a lot of lives in the process.

“During typhoon Sendong, we were able to warn people days in advance, therefore allowing them to evacuate from one risky place to a safe place. There were no casualties, but the media didn't report that. Apparently, it wasn't relevant enough to report that nobody was harmed during the typhoon. And we need to change that mindset of how we consume and disseminate the important information. When the forecast in not accurate, it's gonna be costly.  And when we say costly, we're talking about lives,” said Lagmay.

“Disasters have now become the norm. We also have to make preparedness the norm,” said Director Romeo Fajardo of the Office of Civil Defense who briefly talked about the Philippines’ Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System.

In his presentation, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS) Director Renato Solidum highlighted the importance of knowing hazards and assessing risks in protecting physical assets and human resources. He also shared his recommendation to make disaster preparedness part of the school curriculum since, according to studies, about 13 million Filipino school children are in high risk areas.

Putting the Philippines to the test

Adviser for Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) Guillermo Manuel Luz spoke about risk reduction via quick response and PDRF programs such as EMOPS (Emergency Operations System), PDRF AWARE (All-hazard Warnings, Analysis, and Risk Evaluation), and trainings such as rapid earthquake damage assessment, weather 101 and tropical cyclone 101.

Luz also mentioned the opening of PDRF’s Emergency Operations Center in Makati that seeks to ensure coordination and collaboration among businesses in instituting Business Resiliencies.

The forum following Luz’s talk discussed extending training and help to communities, coordination and collaboration between local government units, communities, and businesses, and undertaking digital bayanihan.

Designing Resilient Cities

“Protecting and providing help to people should be the government’s job. In Albay, we do that by carefully studying our lands and making sure to develop programs that keep our people informed and safe from calamities,” said Albay Governor Joey Salceda as he shared how the province’s disaster risk reduction activities reduce the human, environment and economic costs of disasters, and how engaging communities and maximizing new tools and technologies have improved the way the city manages  disaster risk.

 Salceda emphasized the importance of using information gathered from research and using tools like the Smart InfoBoard in hazard identification, capacity and risk analysis and evaluation, which have been vital in achieving the “zero casualty, faster recovery” goal of Albay’s resiliency strategy against disasters. Salceda’s presentation also suggested the advantages of replicating the Albay model for emergency preparedness and having contingency plans in place in case of calamities.

“Address the hazards before they become disasters,” was the wise recommendation of Architect Felino Palafox Jr., Principal Architect-Urban Planner, to the more than 230 delegates from the IT-BPM and Global In-House Centers (GICs) industry.

Intent on instilling a mindset of preparedness among the IT-BPM community, the 2016 IT-BPM Business Resiliency Summit hopes to encourage government and industry to partner on initiatives that will enable IT-BPM companies in the Philippines to be more resilient, thereby ensuring its continuous growth notwithstanding the numerous calamities that come its way.