Public Private Partnerships in the Philippines

May 23, 2012


Last week I wrote a blog about called “Plans are Worthless, Planning is Everything,” which was a summary of day 1 of my trip to the Philippines.  This blog is about the second day of my Philippines trip: a day devoted to building public-private partnerships in the country.  FedEx graciously sponsored our work in the Philippines and made the convening possible.

Truth be told, I think the second day was even more important than the first.  Even though we had 180 participants learning business continuity lessons on day 1, I believe the ripple effects of the second day will be felt for a long time. 

On day 2, we had 50 participants join a roundtable discussion on earthquake preparedness and how the business and government sectors in the Philippines can work together more closely in order to reduce earthquake risk.  By bringing together the business community, the Philippines government, and the international aid community, we were able to discuss disaster resilience issues in a small venue and begin the process of improving the disaster management system in the Philippines. 

The day began with a presentation by Renato Solidum Jr., Director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).  He presented on the significant earthquake risk that metro Manila is exposed to because of the West Valley Fault (7.2 magnitude potential) and the Manila Trench (7.9 magnitude potential).  He said that 200 earthquakes are felt in the Philippines every year and there have been 90 destructive earthquakes in the past 400 years.  His presentation put the risk in perspective and helped a lot of people in the room understand the great need to prepare.

Francis Tolentino, Chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority was one of the government representatives at the discussion.  If there is a disaster in metro Manila, he is the person that will be leading the relief and recovery efforts, so it was very important to have him in the room.  He talked about the major road network being prioritized for debris removal, the mobile command centers being utilized by the government, and the plan to use golf courses as evacuation centers.  He also talked about his work in the provinces bringing together flood preparedness alliances, something he would like to do in Manila for earthquake preparedness.  However, it is clear that a lot of work needs to be done to prepare Manila for a major earthquake, even though many people said that the “spirit of the Philippine people will carry them forward.”

At the forum, a number of items were identified for follow-up to better prepare Manila for a major earthquake.  It seems to me that the Corporate Network for Disaster Response (CNDR) in the Philippines is well positioned to manage some of the items identified.  They are putting together a follow up document with a list of resilience projects that are opportunities for public private partnerships.  I will share this list with you when it becomes available.

I’m hoping this event will be a catalyst for not only improving disaster resilience in the Philippines, but positioning the business community at the forefront of this change.