Leadership by example

Published July 12, 2020, 11:07 PM

by Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal


Over the past few months, it’s almost a recurring scenario.  Private citizens, and in several instances, government officials themselves, are unaware of the plans and programs to combat COVID-19.  Confusion as to which activities are allowed or prohibited.  Puzzlement as to what should be done, and what should be avoided.  Bafflement as to what are the rules and regulations, which seems to change and or are modified by the day.  Messaging is all over the place.  That should not be the case.  The government should provide the guidance and be the beacon for everyone to follow.  Everyone should follow just one beacon.  Not several, pointing in different directions.

One bright spot is that since the start of the pandemic, the private sector has stepped up and taken huge steps in helping fellow Filipinos.  It’s heart-warming to read news articles about big conglomerates helping fellow Filipinos in need.

In particular, one of the leaders, Mr. Ramon Ang, has been thrust into the forefront of the initiatives of the private sector.  During the past few months, Mr. Ang, both in his capacity as head of San Miguel Corporation and in his own personal capacity, has continually reached out and helped not only the government, but ordinary Filipinos who are struggling. 

There are several stories which people will tell you, but one comes to mind.  A few weeks ago, we worked together with several friends and pooled funds to buy meals for Locally Stranded Individuals who were sleeping in the vicinity of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport because they weren’t able to fly back to the provinces.  We were able to buy three meals for them that weekend.  The first batch consisted of 250 breakfast meals from a fastfood chain.  The second meal we ordered was for about 340 individuals.  And on Sunday morning, we bought breakfast for about 500 people (a meal and juice).  Mr. Ang found out about this and, a few days after, sent meals, coffee, biscuits, and other food items, along with gallons of alcohol, to the Villamor Air Base Elementary School (where the LSIs were staying). The assistance provided was not in the news, but what was important was the help provided to them. 

But San Miguel Corporation has been doing much more. They’ve so far contributed and donated over P13.112 billion which includes the following:

P3.09 billion in compensation for employees and third-party suppliers during ECQ.

P511.1 million in food donations, including canned products, poultry, fresh meats, bread, flour biscuits, milk, coffee, rice.

P500 million for medical donations, including PCR testing machines, testing kits, personal protective equipment, and other medical donations.

P100 million contribution to Project Ugnayan from Ramon S. Ang and family.

P97.1 million worth of free alcohol (1.3 million liters).

P30.7 million worth of toll fees waived for medical front liners.

P6.2 million in free fuel for government’s LibrengSakay programs for medical workers.

P7 million for emergency quarantine facilities with 15 beds each nationwide.

Added to this, the company also paid in advance over P8.77 billion in taxes, concession and contractual fees to the government.  That’s a huge help in the relief efforts of the government.  SMC also just recently opened Better World EDSA, a facility that houses a state-of-the-art COVID-19 RT-PCR testing laboratory. Based on news reports, the lab can process 4,000 tests DAILY, and its capacity can be increased to 12,000 tests daily.  SMC also donated three sets of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing machines and RNA machines to key government hospitals, aside from five sets of the same machines donated to the Department of Health.  The company also donated 55 sets of high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) machines for the use of severely ill COVID-19 patients to the government and 10 quarantine facilities, each with a 15-bed capacity beside military camp hospitals nationwide.  The company has given out much more, with the commitment to keep helping those in need.

As I mentioned at the beginning, there many who, despite their own hardships, have stepped up and taken measures to help those in need including celebrities like Angel Locsin, Bella Padilla, Jane de Leon, and many others.  People who understand that, while money and the economy are important, it is not as important and valuable as life itself. I salute them.  They’re our unsung heroes who try to make life better for others.

Stay Safe.  Stay Healthy.  Practice Physical Distancing.   Care for our fellow Filipinos.