Philippines' biggest firms shell out billions in aid for COVID-19 fight


Posted at Apr 22 2020 10:44 PM | Updated as of Apr 23 2020 12:02 PM

Philippines' biggest firms shell out billions in aid for COVID-19 fight 1
View inside the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal converted into a COVID19 treatment facility at Pier 15, Manila on April 21, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — As the Luzon lockdown due to COVID-19 left millions of Filipinos unable to work and earn, the country’s largest corporations and conglomerates stepped up with billions in pesos in aid for the most vulnerable sectors of society. 

From providing personal protective equipment for frontliners, to setting up quarantine facilities and giving food, medicines and other aid to poor families, private companies delivered even as their own operations were severely affected by the enhanced community quarantine. 

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ABS-CBN was one of the first companies to pitch in. Within the first few days of the quarantine, the broadcast company’s Pantawid ng Pag-ibig initiative raised nearly P237 million. As of April 17, the project has P334 million in total cash donations and pledges. 

The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation organized Project Ugnayan in partnership with Caritas Manila. They aimed to distribute P1,000 gift cheques to poor families for food and basic necessities. 

Guillermo Luz, chief resilience officer of the foundation, said the group started with about two dozen contributors, including the biggest conglomerates in the country. The number of donors has since doubled to about 50.

“We teamed up with ABS-CBN Pantawid ng Pag-ibig program, and they collected a bit on their own . . . ADB [Asian Development Bank] came into the picture and also put in their own funds into the project, and delivered in kind their own materials,” Luz said.

Project Ugnayan generated about P2 billion, and so far benefited 2 million families or more 10 million people, Luz said. 

Besides helping to distribute gift cheques and food packs for the project, Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director at Caritas, said they were also able to collect a significant amount on their own.

“It came from church donations, contributions of church benefactors. Bulk of it. At the same time, people online, through Lazada, Paymaya and GCash, and our telethon with Radio Veritas recently during Holy Week. We were able to gather P100 million,” Pascual said. 

Besides contributing to Project Ugnayan, the Philippines’ biggest companies also made donations on their own. ​

As of April 23, 2020
Aboitiz P270M
Alliance Global Group Inc. P603M
Ayala P5,400M
Bloomberry P100M
Caritas Manila P100M
Coca Cola P150M
City of Dreams P50M
Filinvest Group P100M
Gokongwei Group P100M
GT Capital P200M
Jollibee Food Corp. P220M
Lopez Group P100M
LT Group P200M
NGCP P1,000M
Okada Foundation P150M
PDRF Project Ugnayan P2,000M
PDRF Project Kaagapay P80M
P&G P100M
Resorts World Manila P50M
Riway Philippines P35M
San Miguel Corporation P985.1M
SM P170M
Sun Life P75M
TikTok P50M
Unilab P665M
Zuellig P40M

The donations from the biggest business groups, as well as private individuals donating online and through other channels, amounted to more than P13 billion. Getting a full accounting is difficult, as some donors did not wish to make their contributions public. 

The PDRF said while the donations are substantial, more needs to be done.

“The next phase really is we need more medical supplies. The caseloads are still high, PPEs are essentially disposable,” Luz said. 

Caritas said the private sector needs to continue its initiatives, especially for the poor hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The ultra poor and moderate poor, there are also vulnerable groups we need to support. Construction workers left out by subcontractors need to be fed. Also street families,” Pascual said. —Report from Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News