Posted in The Pinoy Post by Melvin G. Calimag
It's just the beginning of the new year, but the tech world is already buzzing with interesting stories, albeit negative ones.
The gloomy forecast for 2009, it seems, is off to an ominous start, although I'd like to believe that the Philippines is somehow not that vulnerable to this financial mess (as a friend of mine said, we can't lose what we don't have).
Of course, one of the biggest sad stories to come out this early is the Satyam fraud scandal. My fellow blogger, Swati Prasad, has posted a very good blog about this so I won't repeat the facts of the case, except to make a few comments.
Needless to say, the developments at Satyam will have tremendous effect on the Philippines since the country, just like India, is a prominent player in the global outsourcing business. Already, some quarters here are saying that this scandal involving one of India's outsourcing giants is good for the Philippines as it might divert outsourcing traffic to the country.
One such remark was made yesterday, via a press release, by Catanduanes Representative Joseph Santiago, a guy who never fails to comment on almost every IT issue so he make the headlines.
The ironic thing is that Santiago never made any significant IT policy as head of the National Telecommunications Commission during the term of the deposed president Joseph Estrada, nor did he pass any important IT legislation in his current role as chair of the ICT committee in Congress. Although he rarely grants interviews, his well-written press releases are often picked up by the media.
In his latest press statement, Santiago said revelations of massive anomalies by Satyam Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju will "force Western firms to rethink their plans to do new business with, or contract out additional back office work to BPO (business process outsourcing) providers based in India".
"The Philippines is in a superb position to capture whatever outsourcing business that India stands to lose on account of Satyam's troubles," he stated. "Fortunately for us here in the Philippines, we've never had any fraud at a BPO provider of a scale comparable to what happened at Satyam. This could be due to higher corporate governance standards and more rigorous controls here."
Granted that what Santiago said about the Philippines is true, his comment that Satyam's misfortune is beneficial to the Philippines, smacks of opportunism and lacks the class expected of him as a lawmaker. Has the congressman run out of good ideas to write about on a press release?
Proper manners dictate that one doesn't gloat on the misery of others. God forbid, but Santiago could end up eating his words if Satyam-type shenanigans, albeit on a smaller scale, will transpire here. This is not far-fetched possibility, after all, since the issue has been brought to light by this scandal.
In my years covering the IT beat, I've seen the shift of the global outsourcing industry from competition to co-opetition. This is the reason why Indian firms have established call centers here as a way to enhance the symbiotic relationship between India and the Philippines.
Simply put, whatever bad happens to India, the Philippines is sure to feel the negative fallout. If something good happens to India, the Philippines is expected to benefit as well. We're in the same boat.
What we need to do is to learn from this incident and fix whatever is necessary to avoid similar Satyam setbacks in the future.