By Arjay L. Balinbin

BUSINESSMAN Manuel V. Pangilinan on Sunday assured employees of the companies he leads under the so-called MVP Group of Companies that their jobs are safe, noting that their balance sheets are strong and cash flows are more than sufficient even during a prolonged period of pandemic.

In his Easter Sunday message, Mr. Pangilinan said that during the pandemic, the MVP Group has been focusing on protecting and supporting its employees, continuing to serve its customers, and working with all levels of government in lifting the welfare of the broader community.

“It is important that we keep our businesses going as best as we can. We must keep the lights on, people connected, water flowing, and care for those infected by the virus,” he added.

Mr. Pangilinan is at the driver’s seat of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC); PLDT, Inc.; MediaQuest Holdings, Inc.; Philex Mining Corp.; Manila Electric Co. (Meralco); and Maynilad Water Services, Inc., among others.

“A number of you have asked me if this scourge has put your jobs at risk. The answer is — No,” he said.

He added: “I am pleased to tell you that our Balance Sheets are strong and Cash Flows even under a prolonged period of the pandemic are more than sufficient to carry us through.”

Mr. Pangilinan likewise noted that the group’s profit “has temporarily taken a back seat to cash.”

“Not that it is no longer important — our marching orders are in fact to preserve as much as we have originally budgeted,” he said.

“You have steady hands on the tiller, and the ship itself is sturdy. So I assure all of you: our companies are safe, your jobs are safe, and you and your families are safe,” the businessman said further.

MPIC’s tollways unit Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. alone had about 4,000 employees as of 2019 while PLDT had 17,222 employees as of 2018.

Maynilad’s total number of employees in 2018 was 2,204 while Meralco had 5,602.

Mr. Pangilinan said it will take time for businesses to return to normal.

“It will take time for us to overcome our fear of joining social gatherings or business meetings. It will take time for malls, hotels, and restaurants to recover their trade. It will take time for our Tollways and Light Rail to regain their previous traffic. It will take time for all of us — individuals and businesses — to rebuild and heal,” he said.

The government announced on Tuesday last week the extension of the lockdown on Luzon island until the end of April, as the country has yet to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“And when we do reach that summit, hopefully by end April or early May, I am sure we will all be relieved because it is the beginning of the end. I am sorry to say this but realistically, we should not expect to see the pandemic to end as quickly as it started… This could take a few more weeks, or a few more months,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

Also on Sunday, PLDT announced that it is providing its Smart, TNT and Sun subscribers with free access to, a COVID-19 emergency-response website developed by Multisys Technologies Corp. is a website that allows its users to protect their loved ones and community by voluntarily answering a series of questions about their health status without disclosing their personal identity. Based on the users’ responses, the online platform classifies individuals as being in good health, or experiencing mild symptoms or severe conditions,” PLDT said.

PLDT added that data from this website will help local governments and private sector organizations to assist individuals with COVID-related concerns and guide authorities in making their decisions.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.