Photo from — freepik

By Adrian Paul B. Conoza, Special Features Assistant Editor

One of the many things that has gone widespread in the past years since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic brought our then normal ways of life and work to a pause are collaborations. This was seen among companies within their respective industries as they dealt with their respective disruptions and, much more, between the private and public sectors in responding to the pandemic.

The latter was very much noticed in efforts to expand COVID-19 testing in the country; and, as representatives from the Asian Development Bank and ThinkWell Philippines noted, there is much to learn from it.

“The very nature of both public and private sectors allows for a more synergistic response as they bring to bear their respective strengths and adapt these to the context of the greater challenges and needs confronted by our country, such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote in a piece published on the website of Health Systems Governance Collaborative back in 2020.

This is also apparently a lesson companies are beginning to further appreciate as they push forth their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in the new normal.

For one foundation, the public-private model serves as the guidepost that drives its current CSR efforts and aligns them with what their partners in the public sector require.

“The collaboration between the public and private sectors is an integral partnership that sees both sides addressing what the other may not be able to. It is a co-beneficial collaboration that allows the private sector to alleviate some of the weight carried by the government, all for the upliftment of the lives of the Filipino people,” Melody M. Del Rosario, president of Metro Pacific Investments Foundation (MPIF), told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.

The CSR arm of the Metro Pacific Investments Corp., MPIF aims to address the socioeconomic issues of unemployment by creating livelihood opportunities for locals; access to quality education, by supporting scholars from underprivileged families; access to quality healthcare by mobilizing medical missions for coastal community folk; and access to nutrition and food security by distributing at-home planting kits and fresh vegetables to vulnerable communities.

“MPIF’s corporate social responsibility is not only confined to helping in times of need. Beyond relief and response, we have invested our efforts into long-term commitments with our partner communities — to inspire a movement that prioritizes positive and sustained impact in the long run,” Ms. Del Rosario, who also is MPIC’s vice-president for public relations and corporate communication, added.

The MPIF president shared how they apply public-private collaboration in their programs. “Across our main guiding pillars of social infrastructure, particularly for environment and economic empowerment, it is part of our program process to engage in meaningful discourse with our partner local government units to determine what initiatives will best benefit their communities in the long run, as well as which sectors of the community will best benefit from them. The public sector is involved throughout the implementation of our efforts from beginning to end,” she shared.

MPIF, nonetheless, has been an active collaborator with fellow companies within the Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) Group of Companies through Tulong Kapatid, the corporate social responsibility alliance of foundations and companies within the MVP group.

With sister companies and foundations such as One Meralco Foundation, PLDT-Smart Foundation, Makati Medical Center Foundation, Alagang Kapatid Foundation Inc., and Maynilad, Ms. Del Rosario shared, MPIF has determined its CSR pivot to be the champion of coastal and underwater protection and conservation in the group.

“Aligned with this is the empowerment of coastal communities, primarily with the provision of employment opportunities for the benefit of locals. The other companies focus on addressing other areas of social development,” the MPIF president continued.

Having witnessed these dynamics of collaboration adding further meaning to MPIF’s CSR initiatives, Ms. Del Rosario noted that CSR has been redefined from corporate social responsibility to collaborative social response.

“Rooted in the idea that no single company, organization, or government unit can take on this responsibility alone, it is imperative that we create, develop, and continue to foster meaningful partnerships that will benefit our country and our fellow Filipinos the most. Every ripple of intention and initiative that each sector makes can result in a greater wave of purpose and passion that will create a better and brighter future for everyone,” the MPIF president shared.

Moving forward from the pandemic, Ms. Del Rosario expects MPIF to continue addressing the same societal issues of unemployment, while nonetheless aiming to help more communities and organizations through their “tried-and-tested processes.”

“The public-private partnership will remain as our guidepost in developing our efforts and ensuring their long-term sustainability,” she stressed. “Guided by our mutual purpose of reaching out to change and uplift the lives of Filipinos, the collaboration with the public sector is at the heart of the legacy projects that we create and leave behind for our countrymen.”