THE foundation arm of the Gokongwei Group started distributing its P100-million fund assistance to health workers in the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as to communities affected by the measures mounted to contain the spread of the disease.

The Gokongweis added to the list of Philippine conglomerates that earmarked funds to assist in efforts to stem the pandemic which sickened almost 5,000 people across the country thus far.

Both cash assistance and donations of protective gear, such as N-95 and surgical masks, face shields and gloves, were donated to COVID-19 referral hospitals, including the University of the Philippines (UP) — Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium in Caloocan City.

The Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF) also provided hospital equipment like ventilators and other supplies, such as vitamins and rubbing alcohol.

It has turned over a cash donation to the UP Medical Foundation, which has a network of 300 public hospitals across the country. Public hospitals serving a high number of COVID-19 patients, including San Lazaro Hospital in Manila and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa, were also provided with medical supplies and protective personal equipment.

“In these extraordinary times more than ever, we in the private sector recognize the need to complement the government’s programs and efforts by directly ensuring that our healthcare providers receive all the necessary support for them to be able to carry out their vital duties,” GBF Executive Director Grace R. Colet said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Sy-led SM Group is the latest to join more than 20 big Philippine businesses, along with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation and Caritas Manila, in Project Ugnayan, which seeks to provide food assistance to poor households around Metro Manila affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

The group chipped in P100 million to the multi-sectoral relief initiative which aims to pool funds to distribute P1,000-worth of grocery vouchers to over a million families residing in poor urban areas in the National Capital Region.

The Gokongwei Group is one among the first conglomerates to join the initiative which today has raised more than P1.6 billion pledges.

Project Ugnayan has also tapped ABS-CBN’s Pantawid ng Pag-ibig Project, as well as the Asian Development Bank and the government’s Bayan, Bayanihan Project for the distribution of food packages. — Adam J. Ang