Henry Sy Jr.
NGCP donates P1 billion to aid health workers
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - March 31, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) is donating to the government a total of P1 billion in cash and in kind to help medical frontliners fight off the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a letter to President Duterte, NGCP said the donation would come in goods and medical equipment worth P500 million and in cash also worth P500 million “for other COVID-19 response purposes as may be determined by your Office.”

“NGCP will be coordinating with your team on the turnover of our donation. We will also continue to look for opportunities to support the government in battling this pandemic,” it added.

The grid operator said the donation is on behalf of its board of directors, particularly major stockholders Henry Sy Jr.,  Robert Coyiuto Jr. and the State Grid of China Corp. (SGCC).

Last week, Congress passed a bill that would give the President “limited” powers to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Republic Act 11469 also grants him special authority to realign the national budget as well as allocate funds to provide 18 million low-income families across the country with subsidies worth P5,000 to P8,000.

It also allows him to ensure that all local government units are “acting in line with the rules and regulations issued by the national government,” the ability to adopt measures against hoarding and profiteering, and the power to procure goods, including medical equipment and supplies.

1 million PPE

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday that the agency has procured P1.8 billion worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said DOH is waiting for these one million PPE to be delivered and distributed among public health workers tackling COVID-19 cases.

“These PPEs will be for public health workers because there is no provision in the law that we can extend this benefit to the private sector.  The Commission on Audit has restrictions (that) limit our assistance to the public sector for the meantime,” he said a press briefing over the weekend.

But despite such restriction, he gave assurance that the DOH has been assisting private hospitals requesting for PPE which is made up of a head gear, an N95 mask, globes, apron and gown.

Duque also cited the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” which provides compensation of P100,000 to health workers in both the public and private sector who gets infected with COVID-19 while in the line of duty. 

The law, with an earmarked budget of P275 billion, also allocates P1 million in compensation to health workers who die combatting the disease.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire meanwhile noted that some P4.4 billion has been earmarked for the procurement of PPE, ventilators, testing kits and other supplies.

She said the amount came from the DOH’s own budget with assistance from state gaming agencies.

Given the global shortage in PPE, Vergeire said the DOH is also exploring the idea of decontaminating these equipment to ease the shortage.

“We are working with various groups and industry to find an alternative or options for PPEs because of the global shortage for them. There are efforts now to develop alternatives for PPEs,” she added, referring to the information given by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute. – With Sheila Crisostomo

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