"Don’t be shy about seeking help."
Day Four of CenSEI’s webinar series on manufacturing in the “new normal” opened last Wednesday with Peter Maquera, the California-educated head of Globe Telecom’s enterprise business. Like other speakers, he encouraged companies to “go digital” and take advantage of software service platforms and off-the-shelf software packages.
Working from home will require, obviously, faster connectivity (25 mbps is the high-speed standard), “virtual desktops”, and cybersecurity protections. On the floor, new solutions will combine 5-G (a technology where China’s Huawei is 18 months ahead of its competitors) with WiFi-6, the latest wireless standard, to handle demanding tasks like telemetry for process and quality controls.
DICT Assistant Secretary Manny Caintic reported his agency’s key achievements to date: building additional submarine cable landing stations in Baler and Quezon, and completing Phase 1 of converting the national power grid’s unused fiber optic cables to carry the country’s digital backbone. This project will add 1.5 terabits of bandwidth and save over P4 billion in Internet utilization costs.
Cellphone users will be glad to hear that the time it takes to build a new cell tower has been shortened, from 200 days to only 16 days. The DICT is also sticking by its ambitious target to roll out 100,000 free WiFi sites by the time Duterte steps down. But telcos will have to bear the added responsibility for cyber-hygiene all the way to the customer’s access device.
De la Salle Professor Franco Domingo, a defense consultant on cybersecurity, amplified on cyber-hygiene by reminding companies to formulate a security plan that they can stick to. Don’t be shy about coordinating with third parties to address difficult problems. As for the entire country, don’t think that it’s only China we have to worry about. Cyberthreats can come from basically everybody and everything else out there.
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The last webinar day last Friday opened with BOI’s compliance director, Atty. Elyjean Porteza, who ran through the CREATE bill nearing approval in Congress. The biggest reform is of course lowering the corporate income tax rate from 30 percent to 25 percent, and even lower to 20 percent for smaller enterprises.
But the bill also includes various adjustments to COVID, such as VAT exceptions and a lower minimum income tax for health care and other companies working around the COVID problem. Importantly, previous biases toward export activity and Filipino ownership have been removed, expanding the range of investors who may avail of incentives.
SEC’s Commissioner Kelvin Lee shared how his agency is also responding to COVID. The financial impact of the virus now has to be included in a company’s usual SEC reports. But the agency also lengthened its notice period for stockholder meetings (from two to three weeks) as well as waiving fines for late filing or non-filing of reports up to year-end. Online services were also improved, with adjusted deadlines and alternative filing modes.
Outside of COVID, the SEC has approved the formation of closed-end investment companies to invest in corporate debts, thereby allowing companies to deleverage if performance remains weak. On crypto-currency, the commissioner is preparing to issue guidances next year on the offering and exchange of digital assets.
The last speaker for the day was BPI SVP Eric Luchangco, whose group focuses on small and medium enterprises. His clients are typically disadvantaged by lack of financial buffers and market power. In evaluating them for credit extension and renewal, Eric will be looking not only for cost reductions, but also for a credible recovery plan that ideally includes some form of innovation, e.g. the ongoing transformation of restaurants to take-out mode.
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The final speaker in the series was CenSEI’s own president, former Civil Service Commission chair Ric Saludo, who spoke on the very timely topic of crisis preparation and risk management. This has to be built into the organization’s culture and way of thinking, as well as its planning and operating systems. If our reader agrees, you might want to heed Professor Domingo’s earlier advice: Don’t be shy about seeking help from knowledgeable third parties—such as CenSEI.
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Today’s Mass readings remind us to heed the Lord. In the first one, the minor prophet Zephaniah (Zep 3: 1-2, 9-13) calls out the city that “hears no voice, accepts no correction; in the Lord she has not trusted, to her God she has not drawn near.”
But if and how we heed the Lord may change in the distance between mouth and hand. In the Gospel (Mt 21: 28-32), Jesus talks about two sons, one of whom told his father he would not work in the vineyard—but later changed his mind—while the other promised to do so, but did not go. It ought to be clear which son “truly did his father’s will”
This Advent season asks us to renew, and hold on to, our confirmational promises. In our actions, not just our words.
Readers can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.