Tycoons join COVID-19 battle

By James Loyola

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to make its presence felt in the Philippines, the government scrambled to gather its resources to provide more protection to medical workers while making sure there will be food for everyone before it imposes a quarantine.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY — Filipino tycoons, through their respective business conglomerates, have joined the government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus disease as part of their social responsibility. (Alvin Kasiban and Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN) SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY — Filipino tycoons, through their respective business conglomerates, have joined the government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus disease as part of their social responsibility. (Alvin Kasiban and Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

To get things rolling, the government called on the more agile private sector for help and corporate citizens big and small wasted no time in pouring billions worth of resources to fight the disease while providing for the needy.

Firms first took care of their stakeholders, allocating billions to assure employees of

their salaries amid the uncertainties, ensuring the continued production of food and essential services, waiving tenant leases, and extending loan and bill payment periods.

After this, companies began rolling out feeding programs and relief operations for the needy, purchasing protective gear and medical equipment for frontliners and hospitals, and housing and transporting medical workers.

With these efforts amounting to billions, the private sector has obviously ignored its impact on their finances which are already under threat since operations have ground to a halt and their revenue streams have been shut off.

“Of course when you are closed there is no cash flow… this year, you can write it off…,” noted gaming and port magnate Enrique Razon Jr.

However, San Miguel Corp. president Ramon S. Ang pointed out that, “At this point, what is more important are lives, not money. We can make money again but life, once you lose it, it’s gone forever. So between life and money, I’d choose life.”

“Simply put, it’s people helping people. We all have a role to play in the fight against COVID-19. We will take things as they come, and help where we are needed. We join the rest of the country in the continuous fight against COVID-19,” noted SM Investments Corporation Vice Chairperson Tessie Sy.

Project Ugnayan

The biggest of corporate efforts is Project Ugnayan, the fund-raising initiative led by top business groups which has pooled ₱1.4 billion in donations to help over 7.6 million people in the vulnerable communities of Greater Metro Manila.

Caritas Manila’s Project Damayan, the project’s main distributor of emergency cash through ₱1,000 supermarket gift certificates has delivered GCs to 1,366,495 families or 6,832,475 people.

Pantawid ng Pag-ibig ABS-CBN’s Pantawid ng Pag-ibig has reached a total of 631,921 families or 3,151,605 people by the end of their program. Jollibee’s FoodAID program has delivered ready-to-cook chicken to 500,000 families or 2,500,000 people.

Bayan, Bayanihan

ADB and the government’s Bayan, Bayanihan has delivered food packages to 13,370 families or 66,850 people through the Philippine Army and DSWD. ADB has provided funding to reach 80,000 families or a total of 400,000 people.

SM Group

Among the first to act, the SM group of companies has contributed a total of ₱270 million consisting of ₱100 million to Project Ugnayan and ₱170 million in medical supplies donations to frontliners in over 50 hospitals nationwide.

SM Foundation

SM Foundation also delivered several intensive care unit-grade ventilators to support the full recovery of COVID-19 patients.

SM Foundation and Uniqlo Philippines also conducted Operation Tulong Express which provided households with Kalinga (care) packs consisting of canned goods, cup noodles, water bottles and kilos of rice.

National Grid Corporation

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, under the stewardship of Henry Sy Jr. and Robert Coyuito Jr., early on donated P1-billion worth of goods, equipment and medical supplies to the DOH. It is composed of two million face masks, 400,000 KN5 masks,50,000 N95 masks, and 21,000 infrared thermometers. Sourced from China, NGCP chartered a PAL Airbus 330 jet to bring in the shipment whose components are now being distributed to various recipients chosen by DOH.

Villar Group
The Villar Group, which includes real estate and retail businesses, has led the conversion of PICC and ULTRA into Covid-19 quarantine facilities, donated disinfecting apparatus to 12 hospitals, hospital beds for quarantine facilities, and 200,000 face masks to the Department of Health.

Its water units donated bottled water to various relief efforts, and installed public hand washing stations , donated chlorine for use in disinfections, gave rice to LGUs, and provided food and accommodation to medical frontliners.

Ayala Group
Aside from donations to Project Ugnayan, the Ayala Group of Companies has also completed the conversion of portions of the World Trade Center (WTC) in Pasay City into a temporary healthcare facility for patients affected by COVID-19 at a cost of P76.4 million.

Other donors include: The Philippine Constructors Association, which contributed cubicles for the facility; Smart Communications Inc., which set up the WiFi internet connectivity; and San Miguel Corp., which is supplying the center’s alcohol requirements.

Collectively, Ayala’s partners in this initiative contributed P29.5 million.

MVP Group
The MVP Group of Companies, led by PLDT-Smart and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, have so far donated about P700 million for relief assistance.

MPIC and its subsidiaries has donated about P320 million worth of virus specimen collection kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), medicine, relief goods (food and alcohol), face masks, water supplies, as well as transportation services for medical frontliners.

The PLDT Smart Group has donated more than P350 million consisting of cash, food and grocery packs, PPEs, tents, communications services and facilities for COVID facilities, hospital and police/army personnel and displaced people in various areas.

PLDT also donated Toyota Vios cars for use of frontliners to the Office of the President, as well as cars, trucks, and vans to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The MVP Group also converted Ninoy Aquino Stadium into a mass quarantine facility. PLDT-SMART provided free connectivity; Meralco provided free power; Maynilad, free water; and Metro Pacific Tollways donated an initial 350 hospital beds.

MPIC will provide ventilators, PPEs, face masks, ECG machines, defibrillators, mobile X-rays and a host of other components to set up a mobile laboratory.

JG Summit Holdings
JG Summit Holdings, through its philanthropic arm Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF), has earmarked P100 million for relief operations to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, the foundation has already donated to Project Ugnayan as well as a total of 374,694 PPE items, several ventilators and numerous food items to over 80 hospitals nationwide.

GBF and Universal Robina Corporation are also producing 100,000 reusable face shields for frontline health workers. It has temporarily repurposed some parts of its production line to manufacture the face shields.

LT Group, Inc., the holding firm of taipan Lucio C. Tan, provided supplies to medical health workers, to beefed up hospitals, and to provided food and water for military personnel who man the different borders.

It has donated a total of 472,064 liters of ethyl alcohol, donated 40 ventilators, five PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines, two ambulances and one X-ray machine to different public hospitals all over the country.

It also provided 59,583 pieces of personal protective equipment, 101 thermal thermometers and four thermal scanners.

Jollibee Group
The Jollibee Group of companies has donated P220 million worth of food from its brands to help frontliners and families cope through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Jollibee Group Foundation’s FoodAID Program has partnered with several NGOs and public and private groups to distribute the food quickly and safely to frontliners and marginalized families.

International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) terminals across its portfolio have contributed about P350 million to national and local government agencies, immediate communities, employees, and port stakeholders.

ICTSI has continuously donated personal protective equipment, ventilators and test kits to private and government healthcare facilities, disinfectants to healthcare workers, and food and other critical supplies to truckers, other stakeholders, and vulnerable communities.

The firm also donated P100 million to Project Ugnayan.

Razon Group 
Outside of the ICTSI Group, Razon’s Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, Inc. has, to date, donated P600 million in donations of PPEs, disinfectants, ventilators and other critical supplies to government and private hospitals in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The Razon group has also retrofitted the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Rizal Stadium and the Philippine General Hospital to become COVID-19 treatment facilities.  Moreover, P100 million was donated for relief operations for the marginalized sector.

Andrew L. Tan Group of Companies
The Andrew L. Tan group of companies under the tycoon’s holding firm Alliance Global Group, Inc. (AGI) have donated over P603 million, including a P100 million donation to Project Ugnayan.

It also distributed P250 million worth of disinfectant alcohol to various hospitals, local government units (LGUs), government agencies, and organizations throughout the country.

Megaworld Corporation donated P60 million to Philippine Red Cross for the purchase of four brand new COVID-19 test laboratories that can conduct around 10,000 tests per day.

The group also gave P65 million to various LGUs and non-government organizations for programs related to COVID-19.

Resorts World Manila and its various partners gave P125 million worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to medical frontliners and grocery bags for poor communities in Metro Manila.

McDonald’s Philippines
McDonald’s Philippines’ Kindness Kitchen has distributed over 100,000 meals to healthcare frontliners, government workers, and urban poor families.

Filinvest Group
The Filinvest group through the Filinvest City Foundation, has distributed the initial allocation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as part of its pledge to provide P100 million worth of PPE for the front liners and health workers.

Filinvest, together with The Palms Country Club, had opened its doors to the health workers of RITM by providing temporary shelter that is accessible to their place of work.

Metrobank & GT Capital Holdings
The Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings group had pledged P200 million for initiatives that directly support the fight against the virus. These started with efforts to produce the test kits developed by the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) and the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment for frontline health workers.

Engineering and infrastructure conglomerate Megawide has fielded volunteer employees and subcontractors to build four Emergency Quarantine Facilities (EQFs) to help decongest Metro Manila hospitals dealing with COVID-19 cases.

Megawide will also erect additional quarantine facilities in other Metro Manila hospitals in partnership with other organizations.

D&L Group
The D&L group of companies is committing over P100 million in financial support to employees and donations to various communities and institutions as part of its efforts to join the nation in fighting COVID-19.

Through the group’s foundation, Lao Foundation Inc., the company has given financial assistance in communities where D&L operations are located as well as various forms of assistance to institutions that are in most need.

Personal protective equipment such as masks, goggles, as well as alcohol and other sanitation chemicals have also been donated by the group to various hospitals.

Coca-Cola Philippines
Coca-Cola Philippines has reallocated P150 million from its advertising budget to support health workers fight COVID-19. This follows the firm’s efforts such as providing hydration needs for health workers and front liners.

Coca-Cola Philippines will also provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to health workers in partnership with TOWNS Foundation and UP Medical Foundation, deliver food packs to the most vulnerable families and communities.

ABS-CBN has gone all over Metro Manila to bring food and basic necessities that 17 local government units (LGUs) repacked and distributed to families in their areas.

The funds used to purchase these items came from donations received by “Pantawid ng Pag-ibig” from all over the world. Aside from this, ABS-CBN has also assisted 57 hospitals through donating N95 masks, surgical masks, hygiene kits, goggles, and snacks for health care workers.