The re-imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and in the provinces of  Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal—the NCR Plus—on March 29 until April 11 and just recently MECQ from April 12 to April 30 – was met with manifold reactions.

Many faulted government officials for being slow-paced and disunited in its decision-making in handling the grave challenge of the pandemic. The situation we are in today has exposed the weakness of our health care system and, the viability of our economy is being tested.

At the bottom of this problem is the compelling need for all of us to cooperate and comply with the minimum health standards mandated not only by the Department of Health but by World Health Organization as well.

THE NCR Plus ECQ has once more brought to the fore good samaritans, among them San Miguel Corporation’s president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang.

When tighter measures were reintroduced to prevent the ballooning of COVID-19 cases, he reassured Filipinos that San Miguel Corporation is fully prepared for the ECQ.

Its essential products such as food and fuel are available with no disruption in the supply. Its power facilities are continuously supplying electricity and the expressways are operational.

“While these stricter quarantine restrictions are necessary to curb the rising number of COVID-19 cases and reduce the strain on our health care facilities and workers, for many people who earn a living on a daily basis, hunger is an issue. Putting food on the table is a constant worry, especially if you can’t work for days,” RSA said.

With ECQ in NCR Plus, SMC’s food donation initiative was stepped up.  Its food assistance program has benefitted close to 185,000 families in Metro Manila, Cavite and Laguna. Donated products include nutribun, ready-to-eat food products and canned goods, all products of San Miguel Foods.  Packs of nutribun were also distributed to soup kitchens, medical front liners and various communities.

RSA acknowledged that the recent implementation anew of ECQ and now MECQ may be hard for most Filipinos. However, he believes it is something the Filipinos can all get through.  “The important thing is we stay at home, we keep safe so we can reduce the number of COVID-19 cases our medical front liners have to take care of.”

According to RSA, SMC will continue to work with the local government units and find out what other assistance SMC can provide.

Aside from its employees SMC also sees to it that third party contractors are taken care of during the days they are unable to work because of the restrictions.

There is no misconception on the importance of vaccines in the fight against COVID-19. If left unchecked, COVID-19 cases will not only put more strain on the health care system. It could also generate a chain reaction that will affect the country’s economic recovery.

Cognizant of this, SMC ordered close to one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. These were granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration. A portion of the one million doses is expected to be delivered by July this year.  Recipients of the vaccines are 70,000 SMC employees, extended workforce and their families. The remaining doses will be donated to communities who need these most.

“We are committed to helping the government achieve its vaccination goals, protect the vulnerable and build a collective defense against the virus,” RSA stated. “The vaccines are coming. In the meantime, let’s all do our part so we can put our country, our economy, and lives, back on track.”

SMC is one of the biggest private sector donors to the government program against the pandemic. Last year alone, its assistance amounted to over Php13 billion with Php 516 million spent on food donations. Other donations include hospital equipment, testing kits and machines, personal protective equipment, construction of quarantine facilities, and free fuel and toll for medical front liners.

RSA is mobilizing SMC’s resources for the welfare and well-being of Filipinos.  He is optimistic we can turn this situation around but cautions we need to work together, we all have a role to play.

“Let’s keep doing what works – staying at home, wearing masks, hand washing and physical distancing. We will get through this together.”

Well said, RSA.