In his nationwide address last Monday, March 16, President Rodrigo Duterte escalated the general community quarantine of the National Capital Region to the "enhanced" community quarantine of mainland Luzon. The city of Taguig has been placed under lockdown since Wednesday due to heightened COVID-19 cases in the area, with four out of the current 202 national cases originating from Taguig.
During the aforementioned March 16 address, the President called on the big business owners in the Philippines: "You may be able to alleviate the situation in understanding the plight of the workers who are not working now and are, lawfully, not in a position to demand." In line with the order to practice social distancing, public transportation has been suspended, leaving daily wage workers with no choice but to walk to work or score a ride from willing truck drivers who happen to pass by. The suspension of on-site work comes as a blow to those who live day to day, and cannot subsist on work-from-home-terms.
In response to these harrowing times, Philippine billionaires have made various pledges to help put a stop to this pandemic, which is revealing itself to not only be a public health crisis, but an economic one as well, placing businesses and countless households in turmoil. The pledges include food security for those in pressing need, personal protective equipment (PPE) for front liners, COVID-19 tests kits, and others.
The Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF)
The GBF, the philanthropic arm of the Gokongwei Group, has committed a 100-million-peso fund to supply PPE to health workers on the frontline, and, along with Robinson's Land Corporation, will fund the acquisition of much-needed COVID-19 test kits. Coffee, water bottles, snacks, and noodles will also be provided to health workers by Universal Robina Corporation, the group's food manufacturing arm.
To continue supporting the needs of the public, Robinson's Retail Holdings, Inc. will ensure the operation of all their urgently-needed merchants, namely Robinsnos Supermarkets, Rustan’s Marketplace, Shopwise, Ministop, South Star Drug, The Generics Pharmacy, and Handyman.
Brothers Jaime and Fernando Zobel de Ayala have committed a massive 2.4-billion-peso response package to support their employees. The package is a move to answer for "wages, bonuses, leave conversions, and loan deferments," so that all workers employed by their conglomerate and partner employers may continue to be compensated during the quarantine period, including security guards, service providers, as well as retail and construction workers. This intensive support package follows a surge of concern over the economic security of professionals whose work cannot be fulfilled in the work-from-home setting, such as manual and on-site retail workers.
In addition to these, the rent for merchants in the closed Ayala Malls will also be waived. On the health front, Ayala Healthcare Holdings (AC Health) was reported to have donated 10,000 N95 masks to public hospitals around the metro.
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San Miguel Corporation (SMC)
With food and supply hoarding plaguing the globe, food security has become a point of anxiety for many, with concerned citizens talking to the internet to urge others not to hoard selfishly. Fortifying its social responsibility initiatives, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) will be working toward public food security, donating food as well as ethyl alcohol to the most vulnerable communities, prioritizing the poor, the daily wage-earners most gravely affected by the quarantine directive, and hard-working frontliners who toil in the face of the virus daily.
"We will operate our food facilities 24/7. This isn't about making profits. We have the responsibility to make sure that food is available to as many people as possible," said SMC President Ramon Ang, who has also assured that all SMC employees will also be compensated during the enhanced community quarantine. In light of the severe rubbing alcohol shortage, a Ginebra San Miguel facility will be utilized to manufacture ethyl alcholol, which will be donated in 20 liter containers and 1,000 liter tanks for medical use.
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Dedicating themselves to the health front, SM Group has pledged 100 million pesos to aid public hospitals such as Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and Research Institute For Tropical Medicine (RITM), responding to the severe shortage of medical supplies by donating urgently-needed PPE such as gowns, face masks, hoods, shoe covers, and visors.
SM has also connected with Manila Healthtek Inc., the set manufacturers of the 20,000 test kits being developed by researchers at the University of the Philippines Institute of Health, which will be distributed for free upon their completion and approval for use. To access a bigger network of hospitals in need, SM has also tapped UP Medical Foundation to step up their efforts at fighting COVID-19.
Alliance Global Group, Inc., (AGI)
Alliance Global CEO Andrew Tan has pledged 1-million liters of 70% ethyl alcohol to hospitals, the Philippine Armed Forces, and the Philippine National Police. This enormous donation will be distributed via the Department of Health to the aforementioned institutions who are endlessly working to counteract the pandemic. "We ne