NDRRMC Meeting(L-R) Seated: Sec. Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman, Sec. Voltaire Gazmin, H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Ms. Antoninia Loyzaga. (L-R) Standing: Ms. Catherine Maceda, Usec Vilma Cabrera, Usec Austere Panadero, Usec Alexander Pama, Mr. Faraday Go, Mr. Butch Meily, Ms. Imelda Nibungco, Ms. Malou Emie (partly-hidden), Mr. Ramon Ang, Mr. Guillermo Luz, Ms. Marianne Quebral, Mr. Manny Pangilinan, Mr. Jaime Zobel de-Ayala, Mr. Hans Sy, Sec. Mario Montejo (partly-hidden), Ms. Doris Magsaysay-Ho, Ambassador Roberto P. Romulo, Mr. Federico Lopez, Commissioner Emmanuel de Guzman, DDG Margareta Songco, Ms. Liza Silerio, Asec Raymond Liboro, Ms. Monina Flores.

Hans T. Sy, President of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. and other top business leaders in the Philippines have joined together to strengthen the country’s disaster risk reduction and development efforts.

In an unprecedented forum held at the Tower Club in Makati City, top business leaders all pledged to work together to support government efforts that center on making communities and businesses disaster resilient.

The dialogue, which was hosted by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Chairman and National Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, was attended by Sy and other top business leaders including Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala of Ayala Corporation, Faraday Go of Robinson’s Land, Federico Lopez of First Philippines Holdings, Doris Magsaysay-Ho of A. Magsaysay Inc., Manuel Pangilinan of PLDT/Smart Communications and Ambassador Roberto Romulo of the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation Inc.

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Also in attendance were His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila, DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, Climate Change Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman and NDRRMC Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Undersecretary Alexander Pama. The dialogue was moderated by Antonia Yulo Loyzaga of the Manila Observatory.

The business leaders all expressed their commitment to support efforts that will catalyze and promote convergence of government-private sector disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) advocacies and activities.

Sec. Gazmin highlighted the importance of the unprecedented meeting saying “this coming together ushers in a new and mutually reinforcing partnerships between and among government and private sector companies. By this time, we can cover more bases and promote efficiencies in our efforts.”

Usec. Pama on the other hand, said the participation of big business will boost the effectiveness of the national DRRM program. “We have fulfilled our mission, but much more needs to be done in the areas of building resiliency and preparedness in our communities. We need to build on our initial successes by addressing other equally important pillars of DRR such as building resilient infrastructures and promoting business continuity, specially among MSMEs. With such huge tasks, it is important we strengthen collaboration with the private sector,” Usec. Pama stressed.

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The business leaders welcomed the opportunity to work with government in the areas of: (a) economic risk assessment; (b) business operations continuity; (c) sustainable livelihoods; (d) disaster risk financing (e) logistics and supply chain management; (f) communications and infrastructure; and health and safer shelter, among others.

They recognized the importance of designating focal points for coordination in the public and private sector to ensure the unimpeded delivery of interventions. In line with this, a scooping of current private sector efforts will be done. The NDRRMC members present even encouraged their counterparts in the private sector to find their niche to add further value to the national DRRM effort.

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Sy for his part said he has always been an advocate of DRRM as he has made it a core in all of SM Prime’s projects. “I’ve always been a firm believer that DRR makes good business sense, and I’ve been practicing that actually, for, I should say, more than 20 years, or in fact, maybe 30 years, but also maybe because basically I am an engineer myself, so I’m very conscious about these programs,” he said.

Sy also supports UNISDR ARISE and is the only Filipino International Board Member of UNISDR ARISE Private Sector Alliance for Resilient Societies.

An example of SM’s disaster-resilient business is SM City Marikina, which is situated on calamity-prone areas. The mall was built on concrete stilts such that when the Marikina River overflowed, it allowed an unimpeded flow of floodwater through the two (2) – level basement parking.

He said SM Prime will continue to do DRR despite the challenges and limitations. “Rest assured, we will continue to do this. We know there are limitations with the government but these will not stop us from continuing to support whatever government is doing. I would be very happy to work with everyone and make a difference,” Sy said.