News Article

Biz Buzz: Competing to do good

11/18/2013 | By: The Staff, Philippine Daily Inquirer

When companies compete in the marketplace, it’s the consumers who benefit.

Similarly, companies trying to outdo one another in terms of relief operations for Supertyphoon “Yolanda” also end up benefiting the survivors of the calamity.

In the days immediately following the typhoon, the SM group stood at the top of the heap as being the largest corporate donor, with its P100-million pledge.

A few days later, however, it was joined by Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Inc.—the joint venture between US-based Philip Morris and tycoon Lucio Tan—which also pledged P100 million for relief efforts and the eventual rehabilitation of affected areas in the Visayas.

PMFTC said that its donation would be spread over a two-year period and would be given through the local American Chamber of Commerce.

It is entirely possible, of course, that these donations by the SM group and PMFTC would be matched—or even surpassed—by other companies and conglomerates whose relief efforts are still ongoing. In particular, the PLDT group of Manuel Pangilinan continues with its efforts to help areas in the Visayas that have received less media attention.

The group’s main value proposition is its expertise in providing clean water (thanks to its Maynilad unit), while teams from Meralco have also been sent to help restore power in electric cooperatives in Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo.

The San Miguel group, meanwhile, remains heavily involved in unclogging logistical bottlenecks courtesy of Philippine Airlines’ planes (which fly relief goods for free to affected areas). Its Petron unit is also involved in providing fuel to emergency personnel on the ground in disaster areas. As such, the final bill for San Miguel has not yet come in.

San Miguel, of course, holds the record for the single largest corporate donation in Philippine history after it gave P500 million for the rehabiliation of the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in the wake of typhoon Sendong.

So as long as it benefits the victims, carry on with the competition.—Daxim L. Lucas

Speaking of which…

No such competition is happening in the gaming industry.

Under the auspices of the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., the country’s largest casino resort operators over the weekend took a break from pirating each other’s employees and deployed them instead to a massive repacking effort at Resorts World Manila.

“They’re competitors, but they decided to set aside competition for now and work together to help the victims,” Pagcor chair and CEO Cristino Naguiat Jr.

According to him, Pagcor—together with Resorts World Manila of tycoon Andrew Tan and Solaire Resorts of Enrique Razon Jr.—have pooled a total of P50 million to send 50,000 relief packs to Eastern Samar.

“We’re taking the road less traveled,” said Alliance Global’s Kingson Sian of the group’s choice of area that will benefit from the relief mission.

The relief goods were packed over the weekend by some 1,000 employees from Pagcor, Solaire and Resorts World in 50,000 plastic pails that will be delivered by land.

In true high-end resort fashion, each relief pack has contents estimated to be worth P1,000, compared to the government standard of P500 per relief pack (as mandated by Commission on Audit rules).—Daxim L. Lucas

No more parties, tournaments

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … will be less festive this year.

Considering the devastation caused by Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” a number of companies have decided to cancel their Christmas events and instead channel the funds to helping the victims cope with the tragedy.

PJ Lhuillier Inc., for example, is not pushing through with its Christmas party for media in Manila as it was “focusing efforts and resources into giving relief and aid to the survivors.”

Security Bank, meanwhile, canceled its 7th Annual Security Bank President’s Cup scheduled for Nov. 18 at the Sta. Elena Golf Club. Instead, it was initiating a donation under the collective names of those invited to play.

“We are all moved to continue to look for opportunities to help,” said Security Bank CEO Alberto S. Villarosa.—Tina Arceo-Dumlao

Alphaland flights, swamped

With the transport aircraft of the Air Force and private airlines fully deployed for relief operations, some people quickly turned to Alphaland Corp. for help in transporting relief goods to areas outside of the Tacloban disaster zone.

Alphaland, of course, has a fleet of four aircraft—two mid-sized BAe Jetstream turboprops and two Cessna Grand Caravans—that normally ferry the rich and famous to and from its Balesin Island resort.

The company owned by Roberto Ongpin have since deployed all four planes to its relief operations concentrating on Guiuan in Samar, Ormoc in Leyte, Coron and Busuanga in Palawan, and Roxas City in Capiz. Additional flights are also slated for Aklan.

Alphaland has also deployed a barge to ferry relief goods to Tacloban and Busuanga.

The generosity of its private donors is quickly becoming something of a logistical nightmare for the property developer, however.

Despite having flown and shipped more than 25 metric tons of relief goods to Visayas, drinking water, rice, canned goods, noodles and other goods are starting to pile up at the company’s hangar.

To date, we hear there are at least 100 tons of relief goods waiting to be flown out on planes that can carry only an average of one ton per flight.—Daxim L. Lucas

Procy takes a breather

The offensive against Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala seems to have abated such that he is able to fend off attacks, not against him but on one of his subordinates.

Recently, Alcala added his voice to that of Malacañang in defending the chief of the National Food Authority, Orlan Calayag. The Palace stood by Calayag amid allegations that he is an American citizen.

Orlan is a Pinoy, Procy said. His papers are good, Malacañang said. And everything seems to be all right, at least for now.

The picture was much different a few months ago. There was a confusing, if not confused, war for public opinion concerning palay and milled rice. Detractors of the agriculture officials raised a howl about what they say is the failure of the Department of Agriculture’s efforts to make the country self-sufficient in rice supply.

The barrage came from all sides, from outside Malacañang and even within. As Alcala has described himself during many of his out-of-town sorties, only his eyes would be free of welts (“mata lang ang walang latay”) if words were punches.

That is not surprising if we go by a text message sent to and circulated among NFA officials, purportedly from those hungry for Alcala’s blood—“Procy is in bad shape, we will take advantage of it. Will go as planned, don’t worry about the American boy. He will never know what hit him.”

Both Alcala and Calayag remain standing and, as they say, “serving at the pleasure of the President.”

There is currently a lull, almost surely in between storms. Come January, the government will decide how much rice to import. And that is when the next round begins.—Ronnel Domingo