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Why is now the right time for us at SCMAP to establish a chapter in Mindanao?


To be honest, the time has always been right. If we as an organization are to truly move the global competitiveness of the entire country’s supply chain, we have to have on board voices from across the country. While the members of the national organization include the country’s top manufacturers, retailers and logistics providers, our expanding presence across the country allows businesses and stakeholders from other regional hubs to be able to put their issues forward. This brings several benefits. One, it allows regional players a venue to discuss issues relevant to their localities, fostering collaboration and, hopefully, moving the needle forward as their economies grow and develop. Two, it allows everyone to consider these regional issues in a national perspective. Supply chains are only as strong as their weakest links: if development across the country is uneven, our networks cannot be as competitive as we have hoped.


In recent years we have established chapters catering to companies in Visayas (based in Cebu) and North Luzon (based in Clark). Already these chapters have established themselves as venues to discuss issues affecting their regions, whether it be new infrastructure projects in Cebu, or the promotion of the Subic-Clark logistics corridor; their work do not just benefit local companies, but also the country as a whole. We are hoping to do the same for Mindanao, whose logistics capabilities are facing scrutiny as the region’s economy begins to blossom, and as it bids for a bigger slice of the pie in both domestic and foreign markets.


In 2014 we began to work on establishing a chapter in Mindanao, based in Cagayan de Oro. To that end, we organized two events, including the first Mindanao Supply Chain Conference in 2016, attached to that year’s Supply Chain Immersion. However, we could not satisfy the conditions set by our by-laws to formally establish a chapter. While we have members among companies based in Cagayan de Oro, we could not quite hit critical mass. Still, that has not stopped us from looking towards the south: apart from our events, we have supported efforts to establish the Davao-General Santos-Bitung ASEAN RORO route, and we have continued to engage with local stakeholders.


The renewed focus on Mindanao—spurred in part, no doubt, by the ascension of a Davaoeño to the presidency—has led to an increased awareness of the region’s supply chain issues, and more importantly, the need to address these. The ingredients are all there. The national government is investing in key infrastructure projects in the south, particularly the proposed Mindanao Railway, which could improve connectivity between the agricultural regions and the island’s key logistics hubs: Cagayan de Oro, serving the domestic market, and Davao, serving foreign ones. Both of these cities are seeing the beginnings of an economic boom. More opportunities are offered by the rebuilding of Marawi, the passing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, and the recent establishment of special economic zones in Tawi-Tawi, an ambitious bid to take advantage of the area being adjacent to major shipping routes.


More importantly, there is a renewed confidence in the region. I have seen it in the times I visited Cagayan de Oro, and two weeks ago in Davao, as we attended PortCalls’ Mindanao Shipping Conference. “Mindanao can pay because we have the resources,” Mindanao Development Authority chief Datu Abul Khayr Dangcal Alonto said during his keynote address, outlining a vision of Mindanao as a strong economy that pays respects to its heritage while presenting a progressive face towards an increasingly connected world. With Rodrigo Duterte as president we can truly see a critical mass forming. The time has always been right for Mindanao—but with the ingredients in place, and perhaps a chef now ready to whip up a delicious dish with it, the conditions have never been better.


So, next week, we will make another stab at it. We are returning to Davao on August 25 for the first organizational meeting of SCMAP’s Mindanao chapter. (More information is available on our website, scmap.org.) We are hoping by the time we can establish the chapter, and begin working on ensuring that, in the ever-wider discussion of supply chain competitiveness in the country, we have the voices of Mindanao businesses on the same table. If we as an organization are to truly move the global competitiveness of the entire country’s supply chain, it is important that we have them on our side. We look forward to seeing you there and joining us in this endeavor.


Elsewhere across SCMAP: SCMAP Visayas’ flagship event, Sharpening the Supply Chain Practitioners, is set for August 24 at the Maayo Hotel in Mandaue City. We expect another robust discussion of supply chain issues and trends. Also, our upcoming SCMAP Supply Chain Conference, scheduled on October 2-3 at the EDSA Shangri-la in Mandaluyong, has announced four more speakers: Victory Group’s Ike Castillo, Asian Institute of Management’s Dr. Erika Legara, Tailwind Digital Solutions’ Bong Mojica, and OpenPort’s Max Ward. More information on both events are on our website, scmap.org.


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 scmap.org.

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