It’s the second week since President Rodrigo Duterte declared the Luzon-wide lockdown or Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Since then, 552 cases of COVID-19 positive patients have been reported, 35 have died from it — including five doctors — while 20 have recovered. The virus has caused a lot of uncertainties for many Filipino medical practitioners who risk contracting the virus while caring for their patients.
It doesn’t help either that a number of health centers are running out or have run out of medical supplies including personal protective equipment (PPEs), masks and even alcohol.
Thankfully, the private sector has stepped in and stepped up the fight against COVID-19, from real estate conglomerates to hotels and restaurants.
Just this week, some of the country’s largest conglomerates and corporations are collaborating with each other to support the urban poor residents of Metro Manila. They will put together over P1.5 billion to fund the distribution of grocery vouchers (or gift certificates) to those in need. Dubbed “Project Ugnayan,” the project is being done with the cooperation of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF).
The group will distribute P1,000 gift certificates to over a million households in Metro Manila during the lockdown to buy food and other necessities from groceries and supermarkets. These gift certificates will be delivered door-to-door to comply with the physical distancing guidelines.
Aiding the group in distribution to four pilot areas are Caritas Manila’s Project Damayan and ABS-CBN’s Pantawid ng Pag-ibig program.
The businesses that are part of the project are Aboitiz Group, Lopez Group of Companies, Alliance Global Group Inc., AY Foundation and RCBC, Ayala Corporation, Caritas Manila, Century Pacific Group Inc., Concepcion Industrial Corp., DMCI Holdings Inc., International Container Terminals Services Inc. (ICTSI), Jollibee Foods Corp., Leonio Group, Metrobank/GT Capital Holdings Inc., Nutri-Asia Inc., Liwayway Marketing Corp., PDRF, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, JG Summit Holdings, Puregold, San Miguel Corporation, SM Group, and Suyen Corp.
Big Businesses Against COVID-19
Aside from Project Ugnayan, these companies have been pitching in to help boost the fight against the Coronavirus in their own ways.
SM Group announces that it is allocating P100 million to support medical workers at government hospitals. Funds have also been given to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for their urgent needs and to improve their laboratory testing capacity. The group also allocated PPEs and medical supplies to the UP Medical Foundation, Inc., which will help them distribute these to various hospitals around the country. In addition, they have reached out to Manila Healthtek Inc. to distribute 20,000 tests kits to government hospitals once these are approved for testing.
With malls ordered closed while on lockdown, SM Group has waived the rental fees of its tenants for SM Malls and SM Supermalls, so that tenants can focus on assisting their employees financially.
Ayala Corporation announced last week that it will support all of its employees with a P2.4 billion COVID-19 emergency response package. The package will cover wages, bonuses, leave conversions, loan deferment and rent coverage of Ayala partners and Ayala Corporation employees and subisdiaries. According to the statement published on Jaime Zobel De Ayala’s Facebook page, the package is intended to support the extended workforce of the corporation’s partner employers so that they may continue to be paid for the duration of the quarantine period.
JG Summit Holdings, whose subsidiaries include Robinsons Land Corporation, established a fund of P100 million to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the country through the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF), the philanthropic arm of the Gokongwei Group. The fund will be used to help frontliners get PPEs and COVID-19 test kits. Robinsons Land Corporation will help fund the purchase of these test kits, as well as waiving rental fees for all of their tenants in Robinsons commercial spaces.
While Robinson Retail Holdings including Robinsons Supermarkets, Rustan’s Marketplace, Shopwise, Ministop, South Star Drug, The Generics Pharmacy and Handyman will continue to operate.
Alliance Global Group, Inc. — the holding firm of Megaworld Corporation, Empire East Land Holdings and Suntrust Properties — announced that it will donate one million liters of 70 percent ethyl alcohol to frontliners in urgent need of medical and disinfecting supplies. One million liters is equivalent to four million 250 ml. bottles of alcohol. The alcohol will be produced by Emperador Inc., another subsidiary of the conglomerate. Beneficiaries will include those in the healthcare system, the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and local government units enforcing the government’s Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
In addition, subsidiary Megaworld Corporation deployed Citylink buses as a means of transportation for health workers to and from various hospitals within Metro Manila. This initiative is in collaboration with the Department of Transportation to assist frontliners going to and from Pasig City General Hospital and Makati Medical Center from March 23 to April 12. The company will also distribute 1,000 liters of disinfectant alcohol and 5,000 surgical masks to hospitals and health centers, as well as food assistance to construction workers of its two townships; The Upper East and Northill Gateway in Bacolod. It will also distribute 1,000 liters of alcohol and 3,000 food and grocery bags to various local barangays in Iloilo City including families of construction workers of their Iloilo Business Park.
Adding to the list of conglomerates supporting the fights against the Coronavirus is GT Capital Holdings Inc., whose subsidiaries include Federal Land Inc. and Property Company of Friends Inc. They have pledged a P200 million fund for initiatives that will support efforts to produce test kits developed by the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) and the purchase of PPE. The group also pledged to continuously monitor the situation and will implement additional measures as needed.
Establishments Helping Frontliners And Communities
Since the lockdown, the country’s top casinos have had to close its doors but they also contributed their own efforts. Solaire is donating P60 million worth of PPE sets and N95 masks to the Department of Health (DOH) through the Bloomberg Cultural Foundation Inc. (BCFI), the corporate social responsibility arm of Solaire Resort and Casino. BCFI also applied with the Food and Drug Association for the permits needed for three different COVID-19 testing kits from China and South Korea. Once cleared, the foundation will procure 100,000 kits to augment the much-needed supply.
Resorts World Manila, a subsidiary of Alliance Global Group Inc., announced $1 million worth of donations to protect frontliners and to provide aid to vulnerable families. The company will also distribute around 30,000 packs of groceries to underprivileged families in Pasay City and neighboring communities.
City of Dreams (COD) will distribute P50 million worth of food packs — or 125,000 packs that contain rice, canned foods, noodles and water — to aid in the government’s food relief efforts. COD also donated water bottles to the Parañaque city government, and food packs for the city’s Disaster and Rescue team and the local health officials, as well as lending seven buses to help transport health workers in and around the city.
Cabangon family-led hotels Citystate Tower, Citystate Palanca, Vista, Bermuda, and Dahlia have opened their doors for medical frontliners who need accommodations during the quarantine.
Restaurants have also chipped in by providing free meals and drinks to frontliners in hospitals and health centers and those patrolling the streets and checkpoints. Some of them include Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, The Standard Group (Yabu: House of Katsu, Ippudo Philippines, Elephant Grounds), Kanto Freestyle, Pino Restaurant and Bar, Yardstick Coffee, and Macao Imperial Tea.
One popsicle store in Quezon City was converted into a homeless shelter. Popburri opened its doors to the homeless by offering them food, and a place to stay and bathe during the quarantine.
The Philippines as a country has faced many obstacles, and time and time again, it has proven that it can rise above challenging situations with the bayanihan spirit that Filipinos are known for.