By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has declared business as usual for most companies operating in the CALABARZON Region (Region IV-A) following the eruption of the Taal Volcano last Sunday (January 12, 2020).
“After a temporary disruption of one to two days, our factories in the CALABARZON Region have resumed operations,” Trade Secretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Chairman Ramon Lopez said. “With a resilient Filipino workforce, these companies remain strong and can positively overcome obstacles with the ‘Make It Happen’ mindset,” he said.
“In any situation of natural disasters, of course, the most urgent task is to ensure the safety of the people affected, and in the case of industries and businesses, the safety of its employees,” he said. “But after this, the BOI immediately conducted inspections in the affected industries to get a general assessment of the situation on the ground, taking note of the businesses’ concerns on its employees, utilities such as power and water, and logistics,” Secretary Lopez said.
Officials of the DTI and BOI composed of BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo, BOI Executive Director Ma. Corazon Halili-Dichosa, DTI Region IV-A Assistant Regional Director Marissa Argente, and BOI Director Bobby Fondevilla conducted visits on January 15, 2020 to companies based in some of the industrial parks in the CALABARZON Region to get a general assessment of the situation in the areas affected by the eruption of the Taal Volcano.
“It’s mostly business as usual as we aim to ensure operations in Region IV-A remain uninterrupted. We are on standby to help companies in their contingency plans and we will not hesitate to provide relief and support to firms affected by the Taal Volcano eruption,” Undersecretary Rodolfo said.
The DTI and BOI Team visited companies in three industrial parks.
Officials of the First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP) in Sto. Tomas, Batangas informed the DTI and BOI Team that its business as usual in the park and that contingency plans are in place in the instance of worst case scenarios. Power and water utilities temporarily shut down when the eruption happened. About 90 percent of the companies however have already resumed operations as of Tuesday, while the remaining 10 percent will operate once their raw materials arrived, according to the FPIP.
“As a response, these companies conduct three-day inventories and most of them operate on a “just-in-time” system. We also noted they maintain shuttle buses for the safety commute of their workers,” said Executive Director Dichosa.
FPIP also informed the team that they are already doing a park-wide clean up of all the debris including collection of ashfalls from locators which will be given to the barangay for possible other uses such as fertilizers and conversion to hollow blocks.
The DTI/BOI team also met with officers of Denso, an automotive parts and components manufacturing company employing around 1,900 employees based at the Carmelray Industrial Park 1 in Calamba, Laguna. During the meeting, Denso informed the Team that their company is up and running and that power and water utilities are not a problem. The company hired an outsourced service provider to cleanup the debris in its roof caused by the volcanic eruption. It is also crafting a risk management plan in case of the possibility of prolonged condition of the Taal Volcano.
Denso officers meanwhile requested BOI’s assistance in coordinating with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Clark Freeport Zone the gateway protocols on shipping of raw materials.
For its last stop, the DTI and BOI Team visited Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) Group, an electronic and semiconductor subcontracting group that offers technology and manufacturing solutions located at the Laguna Technopark in Biñan, Laguna. During the meeting, EMS thanked BOI for the visit, saying that such gesture is concrete proof that government is doing its work. The Team was also informed that EMS had to temporarily close its operations as the company’s raw materials up to the end products are very sensitive to dusts. The company however is in full operation as of Wednesday.
Company officials also briefed the Team on the Risk Management Plan they formulated in case the Taal volcano situation worsens to Alert Level 5. The Plan included protocols and assignment of decision authority levels from the head of the company up the cascading of decisions to Business Units and the rest of its 10,100 employees. The Plan also included components of the Occupational Safety training as mandated by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The DTI and BOI Team also met an employee of EMS who shared her personal experience as to the Volcanic eruption in Batangas.
EMS officials meanwhile sought the assistance of the Team in the bulk sourcing of the prescribed face masks for its employees.