Like many countries, the Philippines suffered its deepest recession since World War II. The Philippine Statistics Authority has reported a 2020 gross domestic product contraction of 9.5 percent. Nevertheless, economic managers are optimistic more economic activity will return with the calibrated opening of businesses and mass transportation. There is an overdose of comments on whether our country will ever get out of this economic recession. But, with the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines in the country, Filipinos are looking forward to a better year ahead.
Private businesses, including San Miguel Corporation (SMC), are also spending to vaccinate its workforce. SMC has allocated close to P1 billion to vaccinate its 70,000 employees and other workforce for free. According to SMC President and COO Ramon S. Ang (RSA) the vaccination program is in line with the company’s value of malasakit. With employees vaccinated, they are assured of a healthy and safe workplace. “We can further contribute to our country’s economic recovery,” RSA said. “It is our civic duty and our best chance at protecting ourselves and those we love. It is the best thing we can do today to help contain this pandemic, protect the vulnerable, and help speed up economic recovery,” he added.
SMC is doing its best to protect its employees and ensure their health and well-being. The SMC’s concept of malasakit is all-inclusive. There is no need to convince RSA that the good part of the cost of doing business is the national interest. Aside from health, SMC has embarked on projects that benefit the national economy — antidotes to today’s sluggish economy. SMC is busy with its big-ticket infrastructure projects. It recently completed the 18-kilometer Skyway Stage 3 Skyway Stage 3 elevated expressway with seven lanes cutting travel time from the South Luzon Expressway in Alabang to the North Luzon Expressway. It is also undertaking the MRT 7 project which will have 14 stations from SM North EDSA to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. The 22-km. light rail transit route will link with LRT 1 and MRT 3. Also ongoing is Skyway Stage 4, a 58.09 km roadway from the south of Metro Manila Skyway to Batasan Complex in Quezon City. This project aims to decongest EDSA, C5 and other major roads as well as provide faster alternative route to motorists from Rizal and nearby provinces. San Miguel Aerocity, Inc. has also been granted the franchise to construct and operate the Bulacan international airport, with a design capacity of 200 million passengers per year, four runways and all aviation related facilities. Another infrastructure project SMC will be undertaking once approved, is the Pasig River Expressway Project. It is a 19.37km six-lane, all elevated expressway which will traverse the Pasig River. The project will establish a direct link between Metro Manila’s western and eastern cities.There is no doubt that these transportation infrastructure projects have both direct and indirect economic impacts. Foremost is the employment generated by the projects during construction and even after these are completed.
For most Filipinos, employment is the main source of income and this drives higher consumption. “Construction activities will have an immediate economic impact on so many sectors. These create much-needed jobs that put money in people’s hands and allow them and their families to spend for their needs. This spending benefits many small and medium businesses, local eateries, sari-sari stores, groceries, and service establishments,” RSA said. These projects also sustain business activities and provide ease in the linkages of supply chain. Thus, there is better movement of raw materials and finished goods resulting in cheaper goods, including food. Transport infrastructure projects also provide accessibility to areas previously difficult to reach and can stimulate trade and investment opportunities there. These projects enhance the competitiveness of the areas. These also support tourism and travel industry.
For those in the labor force, transport infrastructure projects reduce commuting time thereby improving workers’ morale and productivity. SMC is fast-tracking the training and skills development of residents in areas where the conglomerate is making big investments and building new facilities. It has partnered with the Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) for the skills training program. According to RSA, aside from training those who want to be employed, others are being trained to build their own small business that can directly or indirectly support SMC workers. Skills training had been conducted in Sariaya, Quezon where the trainees learned organic/urban farming, edible landscaping, and fish/meat processing. SMC established a livelihood center where the graduates process fish and meat products. In Bulacan, residents of Barangay Taliptip are undergoing training in metal arc welding, electrical installation and maintenance, heavy equipment operations, cookery, and dressmaking under the SMC-TESDA partnership to prepare them for opportunities in the airport project construction and operations as well as for self employment. They will also be involved in other SMC projects such as the Tullahan-Tinajeros River dredging and in the upcoming cleanup of the Pasig River as part of the proposed Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) project.
“Our goal since this pandemic started has been to create as many jobs we can by pushing through with our major investments. This is how we can best support our economy, and help in a meaningful and sustainable way so many Filipinos who are struggling through this crisis,” he stated.
RSA deserves our gratitude for all the good that he has done and is doing for the country; for giving vaccines to resuscitate an ailing economy.