By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
THE RESTORATION of power, water, and telecommunications services in business districts damaged by typhoon Odette should be priorities in the rehabilitation effort, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.
“Yes, definitely that’s top of the agenda. Damage to transmission lines was severe and it will take days or weeks, but the government and private operators are working 24/7 to restore power as early as possible, and bring food and water to affected areas on a sustained basis,” Mr. Lopez said in a phone message to BusinessWorld late Wednesday.
He was asked to comment on the Cebu IT-BPM Organization’s (CIB.O) suggestion that the government “allocate attention that is more focused on the business districts” so that businesses, including information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) companies, can resume operations immediately “while the rest of the province is being fixed.”
“The President and some of us in the Cabinet have been visiting the affected areas to have first-hand appreciation of the problems and to bring relief and solutions,” Mr. Lopez said.
“From the latest reports I heard from Sec. Cusi (Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi), they have tripled their efforts to restore power and it is partially getting back,” he added.
CIB.O President Exuperto P. Cabataña told BusinessWorld in a phone interview Wednesday that 80% of the IT-BPM companies in Cebu were down.
“The houses have no power and if there’s no power, even if there’s signal, they cannot communicate or use the internet,” he said.
In a statement Thursday, the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) said the IT-BPM companies’ priority this time “is to get every employee accounted for and kept safe amid the ongoing chaos in the hard-hit areas.”
“Business continuity plans have also been activated in response to the disruption caused by the typhoon,” IBPAP President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Madrid said.
“IBPAP has been in regular contact with its members who have operations in the Visayas and Mindanao. Their primary concerns reflect that of the general population — food and water, fuel and power supply, stable connection, and shelter,” he added.
IBPAP, he noted, has assisted members in finding hotel accommodations and in one case, chartering a plane for the delivery of relief goods.
“IBPAP has also been leading a donation drive together with its subsector organizations.”