Sunday, May 16, 2021

Long Way

We got a timely reminder from our executive director Cora Curay during our General Membership Meeting last week: we have gone a long way.


Years ago it would have been difficult to engage many stakeholders towards a common cause. When our predecessor organization, DMAP, was founded in 1989, there was an adversarial air between government agencies and different stakeholders across what we know now as the supply chain ecosystem. Trust levels were terrible, and there was an “every one for himself” attitude. No wonder cartel-like behavior flourished, and regulations were established without much consultation.


These days things are much better. Yes, the much-touted Joint Administrative Order that seeks to address high shipping costs and port congestion is over four months overdue, if we count from original plans to have it issued by February 14—a “Valentine’s day gift” to the supply chain sector, as DTI secretary Mon Lopez put it at the time. But I’d rather that this delay stems from painstaking consultation with various stakeholders in the public and private sectors, rather than from dithering and dilly-dallying. I can say there is a clear effort from all sides to understand other perspectives, all without losing sight of the ultimate goal.


But, yes, it would’ve been ideal if the JAO would’ve been released earlier. I’ll boldly predict an issuance date around July—the upcoming Logistics Services Philippines conference would make for a good venue to announce any reforms impacting the sector. But then, I digress.


But it has taken a while. Back then, Cora recounts, industry associations had the need to show off their being at the forefront of matters. Today, industry groups learn from each other. As SCMAP’s marketing guy, sure, I’ll admit that being the country’s premiere supply chain organization remains part of our branding, but all of us here acknowledge that we have a lot to learn from our peers. We come in with insights from the end user; we appreciate hearing insights from forwarders, from truckers, from shippers, from suppliers, all to form a better understanding. I’m certain this is the case from other organizations, as well as from the government. Many of my conversations with government officials have been exchanges of knowledge—me understanding their take, them understanding ours. And that’s where collaboration truly begins.


Could things move faster? Sure. Supply chains are, by nature, fast-paced: we have to be able to respond quickly, for us to better provide value to customers and stakeholders. Arguably things are still moving slowly—it’s government’s nature, there’s too much analysis paralysis, I could go on. But then, again, it could be worse. We could still be one-upping each other. We could still be making a mess of this.


You can argue that I am being overly optimistic—and I would say this is uncharacteristic of me—but I’ll argue this: the collaborative nature of supply chain took decades to be instilled in companies, as what we used to call logistics evolved into what it is today. Similarly, changes in culture that allow for consultation and deliberation take a while too—and it is still ongoing. We have gone a long way from the adversarial attitudes of thirty years ago, but we still have a long way to go. Another reminder, this time from this year’s just-released World Competitiveness Yearbook: we’re doing better than we did last time, but the finish line is moving, and our neighbors are doing much better than we are.


2019 SCMAP Supply Chain Conference: We are happy to announce the first six speakers for the most prestigious event in Philippine supply chain, happening on September 19-20 at the EDSA Shangri-la in Mandaluyong. Joining us are Marcial Aaron of Villa Socorro Agri-Eco Village and Farm Resort; Tata Albert of VitaSoy-URC; Jonathan Baldo of the Lighthouse Leadership Institute; Santi Gutierrez of LF Logistics; Daniel Ventanilla of the Transnational Diversified Group; and Sean Zantua of Johnson & Johnson. Become a delegate or sponsor now—visit for details.


Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications executive of SCMAP. A former board director, he is also editor-in-chief of the organization’s official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at


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