THE SM GROUP is increasing its donations to more than P170 million to aid the country in fighting the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a statement yesterday, the Sy-led group said the fund will prioritize the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health workers, acquisition of locally developed test kits to widen testing, and purchase of ventilators for hospitals with patients in severe conditions.

The SM Group earlier announced a P100-million allocation to support COVID-19 mitigation efforts. It said it has so far distributed PPEs in hospitals such as the Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines and Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital.

Other major government hospitals have also been recipients of the group’s assistance, such as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, San Lazaro Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center and Philippine Heart Center.

Aside from those located in Metro Manila, the SM Group said it is also sending PPEs to hospitals in Rizal, Pampanga, Bataan, Quezon, Pangasinan, Catanduanes, Cebu, Iloilo, Samar, Tacloban, Surigao del Sur, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Marawi and Zamboanga, among others.

“SM has committed to be of service to the Filipino public, its hospitals, and its government, in ensuring that we all contain and overcome the COVID-19 crisis together,” it said.

SM Investments Corp., the holding family of the SM Group, booked a 20% jump in earnings last year to P44.6 billion. Its shares at the stock exchange gained 48 centavos or 6.23% to P818 apiece yesterday. — Denise A. Valdez