On the heels of the recent eruption and threats of another eruption of the Taal Volcano, the Board of Investments (BOI) met with industry stakeholders and resource persons from other government agencies to discuss and share Business Continuity Plans (BCP) as well as best practices on how to address calamities and concerns on utilities, logistics, and employee safety, among others.

“The forum was called to strengthen coordination mechanisms among private and government stakeholders to ensure that even if a violent eruption occurs, disruption will be minimal and industrial operations will be able to resume immediately,” Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo. “Based on the ground assessment we did on 15 January, it was already business-as-usual two days after the Taal eruption. Industrial parks in affected areas encountered power interruptions except for those using underground transmission cables where power supply remained stable. The affected companies operated using their generation sets that powered at least 70 percent of their equipment. They have fuel reserves equivalent to two days of operation. The companies had to spend a day cleaning the ash in the factory premises and another day to test the equipment and ensure its sound operation. On the third day, almost 90 percent of businesses have resumed operations,” Undersecretary Rodolfo added.

Trade Undersecretary Rowel Barba added that government is redoubling efforts to address the shortage of N95 masks in affected areas as bulk shipments were set to be delivered immediately after coordinating with the concerned LGUs, customs authorities and the truck operators who declared a truck holiday.

Representatives from the power, infrastructure and logistics, and manufacturing sectors as well as other government agencies such as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) attended the meeting.

During the forum, it was ascertained that the main thoroughfares serving the CALABARZON region like South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Cavite Laguna Expressway (CALAEX), Manila Cavite Expressway (MCX) and Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) remained operational throughout the actual eruption and the days that followed. The tollway operators assured there will be more water trucks to help clean the vehicles. A toll holiday in the event of a worst-case scenario was suggested to ensure the immediate evacuation of people and goods. Meanwhile, water remained available in industrial locations and port operations continued.

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Photo shows Undersecretary Rodolfo (left, standing) engages with STAR Tollway Corporation Consultant Louie Turgo (sitting with microphone) on their business continuity measures in light of the Taal volcano eruption.

Nonetheless, the meeting agreed to establish protocols for transport and customs processes for flexibility in the movement of goods securely and safely. PEZA Zone Administrator Atty. Norma B. Tañag, said that immediate transfer of goods and even operations from economic zones to safer areas outside the zones may be allowed in worst case scenarios. In case of NAIA closure, flights may be diverted to the Clark, Laoag or Mactan airports.

Shell Corporation, Texas Instruments and the EMS Group shared their respective BCPs which highlighted that safety of their employees and logistics are the most urgent priorities during disasters.

“It was notable that companies in the affected areas were able to fully operate within two days from the eruption. Still, it is important that a business continuity plan in case of calamities, is in place. It should, at the least, cover communication protocols from the management to staff including legitimate sources of information, efficient movement of people in the plant to safer areas, standard procedures on utilities dependent on the risk involved and access to roads and ports (air and sea) for movement of raw materials and final goods. Notwithstanding any lowering of alert level on Taal Volcano, we encourage the private sector and other relevant agencies to continue the dialogue and agree on a contingency plan for any eventuality. The BOI will thus be calling an inter-agency meeting to discuss all the concerns raised including the monitoring of air quality and the activation of a BCP Network that would include LGUs, relevant government agencies and industry stakeholders,” Undersecretary Rodolfo said on closing the meeting.♦

Date of Release: 27 January 2020