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Corporate COVID-19 response

The COVID-19 situation has been a crisis like no other—the enemy is invisible, moves fast, and seemingly strikes at random. One solution has been to force people into a “community quarantine,” a lockdown to homes to keep people at the proper “social distance” and thus limit the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, those measures also cause unintended consequences—business closures, worker displacement, checkpoints that hamper food and supply logistics, and lack of mass transit to bring workers from critical sectors (e.g., hospitals, supermarkets, food delivery businesses, etc.) to their places of work. This health crisis is quickly becoming a social and economic crisis for people.Thankfully, in times of crisis, Filipinos always rise to the occasion to help fellow Filipinos in need. Here are just a few examples of the corporate COVID-19 responses from within the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation’s network (by no means exhaustive).

Ayala has adopted a COVID-19 emergency response package of wages, bonuses, leave conversions, and loan deferments for the workforce of its partners to cover the duration of the quarantine. This includes salary continuance for displaced workers at construction sites and malls, and retail spaces. Ayala Malls has given rental reprieve for stores in malls that are under closure orders from March 16 to April 14, which merchants can use to financially support their own employees. AC Health has distributed 10,000 N95 masks to hospitals in Metro Manila.

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Aboitiz has extended support to all its employees and partners as well as customer assistance through its business units. Aboitiz Power coordinates with all key customers while banking units UnionBank and City Savings have set extensions for loan and credit card payments for its qualified customers.

The MVP Group (PLDT/SMART, Meralco, Metro Pacific) has continued salaries and benefits and advanced the 13th-month pay for all employees. It has also ordered vitamins for all employees, especially field personnel, and given an initial supply of 4,000 liters of disinfectant alcohol to hospitals.

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San Miguel Corp. will provide food to public hospitals and select government centers. Food facilities will operate 24/7 for supply to supermarkets and for food distribution efforts in poor communities where daily-paid workers have been hit hard. It has also relaunched the old vitamin-enriched Nutribun for distribution to communities. Petron (fuel) and SMC Global Power Holdings (electricity) will continue operations, while Ginebra has started producing 70-percent alcohol for hospitals and government buildings. Salaries will continue for all workers during the quarantine period.

SM has allocated P100 million to protect medical frontliners by providing personal protective equipment (PPEs)—face masks, gowns, visors, hoods, gloves, and shoe covers, as well as critical urgent supplies—to public hospitals. SM Supermalls has waived rental payments from March 16 to April 14 for all tenants affected and unable to operate during the quarantine period.

JG Summit, through its Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, has set up a P100-million fund to support national and local frontline health workers and local communities where the group operates. Its first step is to provide urgently need PPEs for hospital staff as well as rapid test kits. This assistance is above and beyond what individual companies in the group will already be providing.

Jollibee Foods will be giving P100 million worth of food to frontline health workers and on-the-ground checkpoint personnel. The program will be administered through the Jollibee Group Foundation’s FoodAID Program and will consist of food packs from Jollibee, Chowking, Mang Inasal, Red Ribbon, Greenwich, Burger King, Panda Express, and PHO24. It has also announced a separate program for its employees.

Alliance Global is donating 1 million liters of 70-percent disinfectant ethyl alcohol for use by hospitals, clinics, and government agencies at the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. Through the Department of Health, Alliance Global plans to distribute the disinfectant alcohol to all hospitals nationwide handling COVID-19 patients. Also, Megaworld is waiving the rental fees of tenants and retail partners in Luzon from March 16 to April 12.

Metrobank and GT Capital, aside from assistance given to employees and customers, have pledged P200 million in the fight against COVID-19. The fund will initially focus on producing test kits developed by UP-NIH and purchasing PPEs for frontline health workers.

These are just a few examples, and I’m sure there are many more out there.

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Guillermo M. Luz is chief resilience officer of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (www.pdrf.org).

Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club ([email protected]

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TAGS: community quarantine, COVID-19 response, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation
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