Election Jitters: Companies Develop Emergency Plans

It started with speculation and what were then unfounded fears.  And unless the Comelec gets its act together, our worst fear may just happen — chaos and a failure of elections on May 10.

With piling threats, glitches, and foul ups in what will be the first automated polls in RP history — the latest and most serious of which would be the glitches with PCOS machines’ compact flash cards — the public’s confidence about the success of Monday’s polls are at a record low.

Already, the peso has weakened. Stocks have been in the red because of jitters in the business community.

But jitters are not only limited to PSE investors and speculators.  Companies here in the country have their share of jitters, and have been mapping out their plan of action.

I’ve received reliable information from a number of companies, whose top executives and managers, not surprisingly, are also feeling the jitters.

Consider the actual jitters of these three companies.  While they have requested anonymity, they shared the following information:

A multinational company I know has its contingency plans already in place should chaos break out next week.  Officers in the company have been assigned two tasks: 1) act if chaos does happen and ensure continuity in operations; and 2) make plans to ensure safety of employees should the worst of our fears do indeed happen.

A major conglomerate has contingency plans as well.  They have also postponed entering into short term projects until after the elections.  And plans and operational decisions aside, the conglomerate’s executives and employees are more worried about any sudden, unwanted changes and takeovers in ownership if the worst happens.  The thing is, they are  vulnerable — and attractive — to hostile takeovers.

A third company with its regional headquarters in the Philippines has expats based here.  Their executives, who have always kept a low profile, have kept an even lower profile as of late and have been flying out of the country one by one “on vacation”.

Still, other companies don’t want to be alarmist like the fourth company I checked with — one of the largest multinational firms in the Philippines.  Their crisis management mechanisms have always been in place with or without any actual crisis taking place, and their officers are ready to act should something come up.  But they’d rather see wait and see first so as not to make employees panic.  They have so far settled with implementing a campaign among employees to inform them on what to expect on May 10 in terms of how to vote, as well as the potential problems they may encounter then.

It goes without saying that the Comelec will need to work harder not just in following through on its deliverables, but also in allaying the fears of the public.  And as the Comelec has yet to show fully that everything will be in order next week, it may be only right for companies to make their contingency or emergency plans.

And depending on how developments will turn out in the next three days, I won’t be surprised if families will make their contingency plans as well if they haven’t made them yet.  I won’t be surprised if people flock to supermarkets and wet markets this weekend to make sure they have enough food and supplies should our worst fears happen.

In these interesting times, an ounce of prevention is much better than a pound of cure.

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