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Billionaires give millions for relief

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PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

COMPANIES led by Filipino billionaires have been spending millions to help efforts in addressing the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak more than a month after a lockdown order suspended many of their business operations.

On Thursday, Alliance Global Group, Inc. (AGI) of Andrew L. Tan; San Miguel Corp. (SMC) of Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. and Ramon S. Ang; and International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) of Enrique K. Razon, Jr. have given separate updates on their donations to the health sector, government authorities and urban poor communities to help grapple with the effects of the ongoing pandemic.

In a statement, AGI said it had given more than P603 million in total donations through various assistance packages to hard-hit communities. AGI is led by Mr. Tan, the fourth richest Filipino with a net worth of $1.9 billion (about P96.17 billion) based on Forbes World’s Billionaires List for 2020.

AGI gave some P100 million to Project Ugnayan, an initiative of religious organization Caritas Manila enjoining more than 50 private companies to feed urban poor families in Metro Manila. It also distributed P250-million worth of disinfectant alcohol to hospitals, organizations and government authorities across the country.

Integrated resort arm Resorts World Manila and its partners allocated some P125 million to buy personal protective equipment (PPEs) for medical staff and to buy grocery bags for poor communities. An additional P65 million was given to various local government units and non-government organizations to support programs that address the COVID-19 situation.

Property development arm Megaworld Corp. gave P60 million to humanitarian group Philippine Red Cross to buy four COVID-19 test laboratories to expand the country’s testing capacity. It likewise spent P3 million for food and groceries for frontliners and provided free transportation for medical staff.

AGI also teamed up with McDonald’s Philippines to distribute more than 100,000 meals to frontliners, government workers and urban poor communities. Megaworld also waived the rent for the tenants of its Megaworld Lifestyle Malls.

“Our companies are here to support all efforts, and we are continuously looking for ways on how and where we can further extend help and support,” AGI Chief Executive Officer Kevin Andrew L. Tan said in the statement.

SMC, led by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Cojuangco and Vice-Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer Mr. Ang, said its donations to the COVID-19 war chest had reached the billion-peso mark.

In a statement on Thursday, the company said it had given P150-million worth of poultry products to families in urban poor communities, pushing its donation tally to P1.15 billion.

“With the resources that we have, we are in a position to help and provide essential relief, especially to our neighbors, in these difficult times. To use these resources well and put them to good use is the right and responsible thing to do,” Mr. Ang said.

Mr. Ang is the eight richest Filipino in the Forbes list with a net worth of $1.4 billion (about P70.86 billion), while Mr. Cojuangco is the ninth richest with a net worth of $1 billion (about P50.61 billion).

Broken down, SMC’s donations were spent on PPEs (P500 million), food products (P390.7 million), alcohol (P83.3 million), rice (P38.4 million), powder disinfectant (P15.37 million), fuel (P5.3 million), toll fee at its expressways (P5.1 million), construction of quarantine facilities (P5 million), and various assistance from Petron Corp. (P3.8 million). Mr. Ang and his family also gave P100 million to Project Ugnayan.

Global port operator ICTSI, led by Chairman and President Mr. Razon, said its contributions to the COVID-19 fight have reached approximately P350 million.

Mr. Razon, who also leads Bloomberry Resorts Corp., is the country’s second richest man based on the Forbes list with a net worth of $3.4 billion (about P171.89 billion.

In a statement, ICTSI said its donations went to national and local government agencies, immediate communities, employees and port stakeholders.

“Through our individual and collaborative efforts, we hope to somehow reduce and limit the economic and health impact of the virus on our local communities and employees,” Mr. Razon was quoted in the statement as saying.

Specifically, ICTSI said it had given out PPEs and health and food aid to its employees that had to keep working to keep the flow of goods in its ports. It also provided wage increases and bonus programs and bought COVID-19 test kits to ensure safety in its facilities.

Externally, the company has given PPEs, ventilators, test kits and sanitizing equipment to healthcare facilities and hospital workers. It also gave out food and supplies to truckers and stakeholders, especially those in vulnerable communities.

Outside ICTSI, some P600 million was donated by Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, Inc. to hospitals in Metro Manila and its outskirts. The Razon group also donated P100 million for relief operations and the marginalized sector, and worked in converting the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Rizal Stadium and the Philippine General Hospital into COVID-19 treatment facilities.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Health tallied 6,559 cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, where 446 have died and 693 have recovered.





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