Cebu IT-BPM group sends SOS to Nat’l Gov’t

·3 min read

AN UMBRELLA organization of the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) industry in Central Visayas is calling on the National Government to look into the fast restoration of public utilities and services in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette (Rai) as it estimates revenue losses to have reached P5 billion as of Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

Buddy Villasis, executive director of the Cebu IT-BPM Organization (CIB.O), recorded a statement Tuesday, December 21, expressing his industry’s concern about “Cebu’s terrible shape” five days after Odette, which struck most parts of the Visayas and some in Northern Mindanao on December 16, 2021.

He said CIB.O “is looking at major losses on a greater economic scale.”

“As of today, local conservative estimates of revenue losses are at a minimum of P5 billion already. We cannot afford this to continue,” Villasis said. He did not give a breakdown of the P5 billion.

“Roads are not totally cleared yet from debris. Wires, poles, GI sheets, trees, among others, still litter the streets, posing danger to motorists and pedestrians alike,” he said.

“We still have no power and water supply. Telcos are down, although we could get signals in some pocket areas, but communication is too difficult due to unstable mobile signals/reception,” he said.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines said in a statement on December 20 that it has restored power transmission services to Cebu, Leyte and Samar. Distribution utilities such as Visayan Electric and Cebu Electric Cooperative have promised in a December 18 meeting with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to restore electricity within December 19 to 25.

Parts of the franchise areas of Visayan Electric and Cebeco now have power.

Villasis also expressed dismay at the sight of long human lines at ATMs, gas stations, charging stations and water sources.

“We at CIB.O are calling on the National Government and relevant authorities to look at this situation with top priority. If we continue to have zero utilities and public services, chaos and looting, and other forms of public disorder will not be a remote possibility,” he said.

Calling on the National Government to make Cebu’s post-Odette situation “a national emergency,” CIB.O through Villasis asks it “to step in right away to help restore soonest our primary requirements for survival.”

President Rodrigo Duterte visited Argao, Cebu, where Odette made a landfall, to assess the damage wrought by the typhoon.

“During the height of the pandemic, the IT-BPM industry saved the national and local economies, but with the current situation in Cebu, we cannot not operate. Lots of other businesses within and outside the IT BPM ecosystem cannot operate without power and relevant utilities,” Villasis said.

There are about 200,000 workers employed in Cebu’s IT-BPM industry.

Villasis warned that while IT-BPM companies are fully operating amid Cebu’s present state, companies may shut down anytime if generator sets of office buildings can’t refuel as fuel replenishment is a problem for almost all buildings.

Long queues were observed in gasoline stations in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette.

Cebu had a similar devastation after Super Typhoon Ruping on November 12, 1990, losing power, communication and water lines and seeing infrastructure damaged and destroyed. Recovery and restoration came a month later with then governor Emilio Osmena Jr. tapping Malacañang and national agencies for help.

Villasis visited Cebu’s news media offices Tuesday morning to send his recorded statement via Bluetooth because he didn’t have a mobile signal. He recorded his statement on his car’s dashcam.

“My vehicle is my only source of power to charge gadgets given the present blackout,” he said. (with KOC)

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