MPTC lights ‘dark corners’ in wake of pandemic

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Facing a pervasive crisis that has immobilized millions and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, one can be so overwhelmed by a sharp sense of uncertainty, even mortality, that one may just sink into resignation — and inaction.

It is to the credit of human resilience that, instead of yielding one’s fate to an unseen enemy, people and organizations have chosen to act — and act they did.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) is one firm that acted promptly.

“In times like this, we realize that we are all part of a broader global community whose welfare will depend on how we will work together: We must do our share,” said MPTC President and Chief Executive Officer Rodrigo E. Franco in his company-wide call for collective action.

MPTC knows where its heart is: It is with the people who found themselves jobless, hungry, vulnerable to disease — and simply almost hopeless.

With a clear mind on its priorities, MPTC worked through some uncharted pathways for action. After all, no organization had prepared for a pandemic with unsettling results — hospitalizing thousands, rising number of fatalities, hopeful statistics on recoveries, widespread hunger, mounting public anger, and the ill prospects of social unrest.

“We definitely needed to improve and re-calibrate our strategies,” Mr. Franco said.

MPTC is focused on three pillars. Its first pillar — priority — is its people. Mr. Franco’s first agenda item is to assure job security for every staff member, and he did. Due to imposed lockdown and social distancing, MPTC shifted to a work-from-home policy.

MPTC has activated tele-consultation services to deal with employees’ physical or psycho-social concerns, considering the unsettling effects of the pandemic. It has also caused a steady stream of important pieces of information, health advisories, and coping how-tos.

Under the second pillar, MPTC has assured its customers of seamless travel in all its tollways, its commitment and standard of service from the very start. The company has reached out to vulnerable communities living alongside its tollways. It has expanded its food relief program to at least 220 barangays within the tollways’ reach.

Outside the Philippines, MPTC has extended the same benefits to the communities of its Indonesian partner, Nusantara Infrastructure of Jakarta, in the form of life essentials and hygiene packages.

In light of the pandemic, operational adjustments were made to make the expressways hygienic aside from being safe, to build confidence among motorists and riders that their safety and well-being are important to MPTC. Measures included regular disinfection of expressway facilities, maximized use of electronic payments for toll booth transactions, and the provision of masks and personal protective equipment to the front liners.

Also, despite the significant revenue loss, MPTC waived toll fees for heathcare workers who are using its Luzon expressways. Where needed, the company provided a shuttle service for them.

These actions have spared the front liners from undue delay and inconveniences. MPTC’s expressway operations have also maintained the seamless flow of essential commodities that should reach households.

The firm’s relief efforts have reached the Visayan region, where it is completing the construction of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX). It has provided financial assistance and accelerated livelihood programs for the fisherfolk communities in the area.

A few weeks ago, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) raised the need for hospital beds for a new quarantine facility in the Forum Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

Watchful of where it is needed, MPTC promptly donated 350 hospital beds, enabling the DPWH to beat its deadline to have the quarantine facility within the first half of April. MPTC’s business units donated relief goods, such as CCLEX’s hundreds of sacks of rice, to the local government units to augment the help to their constituents.

Solidarity has been achieved by MPTC people and its business units — NLEX Corp., MPT South Corp., Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway Corp, Nusantara Infrastructure in Jakarta, and CII Bridges & Roads in Vietnam.

“What defines us in these times is the positive attitude we are taking,” recounts MPTC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Cultivating a corporate culture that revolves around MPTC’s concern for others and commitment to service has expanded its people’s connections and enabled them to grow stronger roots wherever they are.

MPTC is part of the MVP Group, whose other corporations are in the midst of philanthropic, social welfare and social action programs. The companies include a chain of hospitals, a water supply firm, railway transit, power distribution, telecommunications, mining, and logistics. The group’s corporate purpose is inextricably linked with the broader purpose of the country and in its people.

The statement of Mr. Pangilinan acquires more meaning considering the scale, depth and breadth of the organization’s involvement and its resolute response to uphold the country and its people.

“You have steady hands on the tiller, and the ship itself is sturdy,” Mr. Pangilinan said. “I hope that years from today, we can all look back to this experience and be proud of ourselves. You are bearers of torches that have given light to the dark corners of our country.”