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Leading through crisis

By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran, Special Features Writer

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been an ordeal that has left its mark on modern history, with the world still collectively reeling from its impact. Slowly but surely, however, the wounds from the crisis are mending and as governments all over the world strive to vaccinate enough people to reach herd immunity, more and more groups are stepping up to help their fellowmen.

Such a massive crisis could only be overcome with collaboration, especially among those with the most influence. The MVP Group of Companies, one of the biggest corporations in the Philippines, has been striving to do its part during the pandemic.

Embodying the spirit of bayanihan

The MVP Group has become a partner of the Department of Health (DoH) in its ‘BIDA Solusyon’ campaign, which encouraged all sectors to comply with science-backed behavioral changes in preventing the spread of COVID-19. BIDA stands for Bawal walang mask; I-sanitize ang mga kamay, iwas-hawak sa mga bagay; Dumistansya ng isang metro; Alamin ang totoong impormasyon. Aimed at empowering Filipinos in every sector, the campaign promoted a whole-of-nation, whole-of-government approach in rising above the pandemic.

The MVP Group contributed to the campaign through repurposing the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) into the Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (CERID), a dedicated COVID-19 facility.

The MVP Group is home to some of the country’s largest companies, including telecommunications giant PLDT, Inc.; Metro Pacific Investments Corp., whose businesses span energy, water services, toll roads, hospitals, railways and logistics; agribusiness leader Roxas Holdings, Inc.; and MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. which includes TV5, Cignal TV, The Philippine STAR, and BusinessWorld.

Manuel V Pangilinan, chairman of the MVP Group of Companies, also stated the vision behind his conglomerate’s participation in the campaign: “On behalf of all our companies and our foundations, I would like to pledge our support to promote the values of BIDA not just in our businesses, but in our daily lives as well. We are hoping that through our Group’s contribution, we could help the real BIDA who are central to our businesses — the Filipino people, the Filipino consumers.”

In addition, MVP Group pledged to help build consumer confidence through the widespread adoption of the campaign’s objectives and to release BIDA Solusyon information materials through their existing channels, including physical stores and business centers under the group such as PLDT-Smart stores nationwide, Meralco Bayad Centers, and the Light Rail Manila Corp.; tollroads in NLEx, CAVITEx, and CALAx which are equipped with contactless RFID payment in toll booths; and Maynilad which set up contactless hand wash stations with liquid soap to further promote handwashing.

This is not to mention the efforts of Tulong Kapatid, the corporate social responsibility alliance of foundations and companies under the MVP Group of Companies, which has extended aid to augment the government’s initiatives against the pandemic.

Last April, the group also announced that it is converting part of the First Pacific Leadership Academy in Antipolo, Rizal province into a COVID-19 quarantine facility for employees to aid in the decongestion of hospitals in Metro Manila.

“Our efforts to take care of our workforce aim to reduce overall community transmission, while protecting and providing breathing space to hospitals and medical front liners, who have been our anchor and support as we continue to battle this pandemic,” Mr. Pangilinan said in a statement.

One for all, all for one

The MVP Group knows that the first step towards enacting positive change is from within. This is why it also announced that it has procured 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for their personnel and household members of their employees, and have recently started rolling out vaccination.

Led by the MVP Group Vaccine Task Force, the first tranche of company-procured Moderna doses was administered to the Group’s first batch of employees at the Meralco compound in Pasig City.

The launch site is one of several facilities the Group has identified in administering all the vaccinations in National Capital Region (NCR) Plus. Among those to be activated by the second week of July are PLDT Sta. Ana in Manila, Smart Tower in Makati, Maynilad Balara in Quezon City, and NLEx Sta. Rita in Bulacan.

The pilot sites are manned mainly by frontliners from the MVP Group’s hospital arm Metro Pacific Hospitals Holdings, Inc. (MPHHI), and is expected to vaccinate an average of 700 up to 1,350 individuals per day.

The rollout will run until December, depending mainly on the arrival of Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.

“Any talk about ending this pandemic begins with a fundamental imperative: the successful rollout of ethically procured, safe, and effective vaccines to a significant majority of our people,” Mr. Pangilinan said. “Our vaccinees, through the essential services we offer group wide — from hospitals, telecommunications and digital services, electricity, water, tollways and road infrastructure, media and more — have been and will continue to be the key source of stability as the Philippines emerges from this global crisis.”

For areas outside NCR Plus, the Vaccine Task Force will use a combination of MPHHI’s private health care network — the Philippines’ largest — as well as other MVP Group-wide facilities and selected malls across the country.

A light for those in need

The most devastating quality of the COVID-19 pandemic is its prejudice, as seen by the disparity in which it affects its victims. The World Bank has estimated that the pandemic could push about 49 million people into extreme poverty in 2020.

In its commitment to help Filipinos to find work or create their own businesses, the foundations of the MVP Group of Companies recently distributed 60 bicycles to disadvantaged residents of Quezon City as part of the Bike for Livelihood initiative.

Working in partnership with Gretchen Ho, who founded the Donate a Bike, Save a Job project in 2020, the PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF), One Meralco Foundation, Metro Pacific Investments Foundation and First Pacific Co. Ltd. aim to donate at least 500 bicycles this year.

The latest donation is in addition to over 300 bicycles that have been turned over to underprivileged recipients in Pasig, Manila, Caloocan, Batangas as well as contact tracers from the Philippine National Police.

To help them in their online business, residents from Quezon City also received 100 Smart phone retailer kits from First Pacific and 100 Pocket WiFi devices from Smart Communications. These digital tools will help small business owners connect to the market through online apps and platforms, the new normal for businesses.

During the launch of the Bike for Livelihood in June, Mr. Pangilinan, who initiated the project, said it could help support livelihood and transportation needs in the recipients’ respective jobs. “The best solution to poverty is livelihood. If you could provide [people] with a means of making themselves a livelihood, whether by delivering food or medicine or water, I think that’s something we should support,” he said.

“I do hope they would use it for their families, so they can uplift their way of living. At the end of day, that’s what we’re all here for. Social orientation is embedded in our Group’s DNA,” he added.

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