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“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary vision” is the slogan we’ve adopted for this year’s SCMAP Supply Chain Conference – or, at least, a reimagined version of it, seeing that we’re still not allowed to have public gatherings and people are still uneasy about returning to the way things used to be due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Still, the show must go on, so throughout this October we will be mounting what is still the most prestigious event in Philippine supply chain. Of course it’s different this time around. Normally it would’ve been held last week, but instead, we have broken up the conference to three afternoon sessions on the 8th, 15th and 22nd of the month; we hope the topics will help you take stock of the changes and upheavals we have experienced in the past few months, and hopefully prepare you as we get ready for more of the same in the coming year.

 

On October 8, we will tap into the expertise of industry leaders to understand where we are heading in the coming months. Joining us for this session are COL Financial Group’s April Tan, the Philippine Retailer Association’s Rosemarie Ong, and UNCTAD’s Mark Assaf.

 

On October 15, we explore how we can improve our supply chain processes to continue serving our customers, and perhaps improve the way we serve them. We have confirmed Kuehne + Nagel’s Elisha Camus and Loadr’s German Martizano as our speakers for this session, with more to be announced in the coming days.

 

Finally, on October 22, we keep in touch with supply chain’s most important role: providing value through building relationships with our customers and partners. GoRobinsons head Edna Belleza is among the speakers confirmed for this session.

 

The event will be held exclusively through Zoom – as with almost everything these days – and is free for SCMAP members and at PHP 500 per session for non-members. Registered participants can also view the sessions on demand afterwards.

 

I understand that these days joining online events like this is a difficult sell. We’re bombarded with virtual meetings and webinar invitations; there’s the paradox of most of us working from home and yet having less time for everything else. (Let’s take networking: it’s just not the same online.) But despite these challenges, we at SCMAP are committed to ensuring everyone across Philippine supply chain is armed with the right information and relevant perspectives so we can collectively navigate our way through these extraordinary times.

 

For our part, we have accelerated plans to revive our training offerings – by the way, thanks to everyone who joined us for Supply Chain Mornings last Thursday – and we’ll continue to work both through events and through closer collaboration with stakeholders in the public and private sector to make sure we can truly keep supply chain moving.

 

In return, it is our fervent hope that, as we face these challenges together, you will continue to support us – by becoming an active member, or by participating in our events and seminars. The learning curve may be steep, but together we can achieve great things.

 

We have seen this in the past six months. To its credit the government has prioritized continuing supply chains as movement restrictions took hold. The collective voice of SCMAP and other industry associations has also helped raise the industry’s concerns and pushed for regulations and reforms that allow its continued operations. I mean, how can you keep supermarkets and drugstores open if no products can get on their shelves? How can you keep the economy open, for that matter?

 

And yet, the challenges we face go beyond making sure we can continue moving our goods. As I have reiterated in this column before, the government has to do much more to bring back consumer confidence, so the economy can truly recover from the shock of the pandemic. We can reopen businesses as gradually as we want, and enforce health practices as much as we want, but people will still not go out if they know they’re still not safe out there, or if they just don’t have the means to spend for their families and themselves. The government must quickly consider how it can support those who have been out of work for the past six months, through both short-term and long-term measures. More importantly, the government has to be much, much more proactive when it comes to addressing this health crisis. In other words, these extraordinary times call for extraordinary vision.

 

In the past week the government has extended the “state of calamity” over the Philippines to September 2021. The president has again insisted nothing can be done without a vaccine – not even better contact tracing? – and all we can do together is wait, endure these uncertainties, perhaps sacrifice more than we can give. Unless the plan is to throw away all that we’ve worked together for these past few years, this cannot be. This shouldn’t be.

 

Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications director of SCMAP, and editor-in-chief of its official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at scmap.org.

 

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