MANILA, (11 April 2020) – Amidst the COVID-19 health crisis, the bayanihan spirit is alive among members of the Philippines’ business community.

This was noted by National Task Force on COVID-19 (NTF COVID-19) Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., as he lauded the private sector’s “Project Ugnayan,” which has already raised PhP 1.7 billion for 1.5 million low-income families affected by the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.“We are very grateful to businesses and organizations which have taken part in ‘Project Ugnayan.’ Through your efforts, you are helping our less fortunate brothers and sisters cope with the effects of this COVID-19 pandemic,” Galvez said.

Launched on March 19, 2020, Project Ugnayan is a collaborative effort among 56 private business establishments and the families who run them. The initiative is a feeding program for indigent families in Metro Manila,f Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna.

It has five distribution channels, which include Caritas Manila, ABS-CBN, Jollibee, a collaborative project between the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and government, and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) which also serves as the project’s secretariat.

“This is truly the Filipino bayanihan spirit in action, as the public and private sector are working hand-in-hand to help those who are most in need,” Galvez said.

Project Ugnayan for Bayanihan

“As of April 4, Project Ugnayan has reached 4.9 million people. We will be continuing our distribution through Easter and the proceeding weeks so we can reach our goal to serve 1.5 million families,” said Fernando Zobel de Ayala, one of the donors of Project Ugnayan, in a letter addressed to Galvez.

According to Ayala, Project Ugnayan principal distributor Caritas Manila has so far provided PhP 1,000 worth of grocery gift certificates and vouchers to 651,799 families or 3.26 million individuals through house-to-house visits.

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN had delivered food packages to 179,078 families or an estimated 895,390 individuals through the help of local government units (LGUs) through its Pantawid ng Pag-Ibig Project.

Jollibee, through its FoodAID Project, also donated PhP 100 million to indigent families and has delivered ready-to-cook chicken packs to 146,212 families or 731,060 beneficiaries.

For its part, the ADB, in collaboration with the government, distributed aid to 8,030 families or 40,150 individuals through its Bayan, Bayanihan! Project.

“We are working closely with the barangay captains, local chief executives, and the Philippine National Police in carrying out this work,” Zobel de Ayala said, as he explained the implementation of the project.

“We also observe the proper measures such as social distancing and providing our priests and volunteers with gear, alcohol, and vitamins,” he added.

The companies and families who donated under Project Ugnayan include the following: Aboitiz Group, ABSCBN/First Gen, Alaska Milk Corporation, Alliance Global Group & Megaworld, Alphaland, AY Foundation & RCBC, Ayala Corporation (OK)/Zobel de Ayala Family, Bench/Suyen Corp, Bonifacio West Devt Corp, Carmelray Group, Cathay Land, Inc., Cebuana Lhullier, Century Pacific, Coca Cola Philippines, Conception Industrial, Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal Foundation, Inc., Daiichi Properties, DMCI Group of Companies, Dowell Container and Packaging Corporation, Far Eastern University, F.F. Cruz & Co., First Life Financial Company, Focus Global Inc., Global Food Group, Glorious Commercial Exports, Inc., Gokongwei Group of Companies/Robinsons Retail Holdings, International Container Terminal Services, JAKA Group, Jollibee, JP Morgan, Kawit Prime Holdings Inc., Leonio Group, MAP, Mercury Drug Corporation, Metrobank, Mumuso Group, Nutri-Asia, One Meralco Foundation, Oishi/Liwayway Marketing Group, Penshoppe, People R People, PepsiCo Foundation, Philippine Racing Club, Inc., PLDT/Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Puregold, Ramon S. Ang and Family, Regan Industrial Sales, Inc./Supreme Steel Pipe Corporation, RRK/Lee Jeans, Shang Properties Inc., SM/BDO, Sugar Junction Inc., Sunlife of Canada, Super Prime Holdings, Inc., TAO Corporation, Unilab, and Wilcon Depot.

“We are pleased to be part of this relief effort in ensuring more economically-vulnerable families receive the help they need,” Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz said in a statement.

“In these trying times, we need to step up and ensure we are able to make a difference in the lives of those who need help the most,” Aboitiz stressed.

Project Kaagapay

Aside from Project Ugnayan, the PDRF, Zuellig Pharma, ABS-CBN, Metro Drug, and Go Negosyo launched the Kaagapay: Protect our Healthcare Heroes Project which aims to raise over PhP 100 million to provide the necessary medical equipment to the nation’s frontliners. The ongoing fundraising initiative seeks to provide 50 ventilators and 30,000 personal protective
equipment for the healthcare sector.

Private sector support for ECQ extension

The private sector has likewise thrown its support behind the government’s decision to extend the Luzon enhanced community quarantine to April 30 in order to sustain the gains achieved in slowing the spread of the disease.

“This is consistent with the research data on past pandemics, evaluation of initiatives in other countries and various statistical analyses that we have been studying to help break the COVID-19 pandemic,” Zobel de Ayala said in a separate statement released to media.

San Miguel Vice Chairman, president and COO Ramon Ang also backed the ECQ extension, citing the importance of “life over money.”

“For me, we have to be sure, that when we are going to lift, we have already flattened the curve, otherwise when we lift it too early and then all of a sudden so many unknown cases comes out, then there’s going to be a lot of people, a lot of innocent people will die,” Ang said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

In the meantime, the World Health Organization (WHO) lauded the Philippine government for implementing the Luzon-wide ECQ, as this measure has been instrumental in containing the spread of the disease.

“Philippines, because of the lockdown, we are not experiencing so-called large-scale community outbreak,” Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO Western Pacific Regional Director said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

The implementation of the ECQ was originally set to end on April 12, 2020 as stated in Proclamation No. 929 series of 2020. It was later extended to April 30, 2020 following a recommendation from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to extend the lockdown. ###