MELANDREW T. VELASCO: The art of giving, Don Ramon Ang’s way
The task of introducing RSA who was the guest of honor and speaker for the event was given to MTFI Chairman Emeritus Gen. Reynaldo V. Velasco (Ret). Velasco’s experiences working with RSA convey the character and values of the latter. A visionary, RSA’s plan to connect the northern provinces of the country to the southern tip of Luzon is now being realized.
His love for nature and for the environment is beyond question. SMC is actively involved in environment conservation and protection through the various programs of its subsidiaries. In fact, under SMC’s Greening For Nation Building, some 3.8 million trees in the last three years with 89 percent survival rate for upland trees and 91 percent for mangroves in the wetlands. SMC is also targeting to plant 7 million on 4,000 hectares of upland and mangrove areas all over the country.
RSA supports the Annual Million Tree Challenge and now the MTFI programs to rehabilitate critical watersheds. He is also undertaking the dredging and desilting of Tullahan River and the Pasig River without any cost to government. “I still have to see a businessman who will invest on his own in clearing a very big river like Tullahan in support of the project of DENR,” Velasco had said.
RSA is also someone with a deep sense of gratitude. Velasco recalled that he would accompany RSA to visit former President Fidel V. Ramos regularly until COVID restrictions were imposed. He contributed to the Silver Linings road show that brought FVR and book authors Melandrew T. Velasco and Gen. Velasco to different U.S. cities. Silver Linings is a book about the 1986 People Power Revolution where FVR played a vital role. He acknowledges the contributions of FVR to the country and shows his gratitude to the former president. “I don’t want FVR to feel that we are paying attention, taking care of him because he is the President. Even if he is no longer president I want him to feel loved.”
Aside from the various big-ticket infrastructure projects that his company is undertaking which provide employment to many and fuel economic growth such as the Bulacan International Airport, MRT 7, and PARX, among others, RSA’s compassion for his countrymen is very visible in the COVID response of SMC.
SMC was among the first corporations to extend assistance when the country was put under hard lockdown by the government. It launched a nationwide food donation drive, including the purchase of sacks of rice which were distributed to informal settlers in different areas in the metropolis. It spent over a billion on medical donations and initiatives, including purchase of a PCR machine and building of laboratory to test its workforce for free. It also donated PCR testing machines, test kits, quarantine facilities and PPEs. SMC also produced and donated disinfectant alcohol to hospitals nationwide.
Aside from these, during the lockdown, SMC paid all salaries of its employees in full amounting to over Php3billion. It also advanced payments of taxes and concession fees to government amounting to P8.77 billion to ensure funds were available for the government response efforts.
Furthermore, SMC implemented a “no toll fees” policy for medical frontliners at its expressways: Southern Taga’log Arterial Road (STAR), South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Skyway system, NAIA Expressway, and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX).
When Typhoon Odette battered Visayas and Mindanao, SMC immediately extended assistance to affected families with its response operations reaching P83.4 million. Over 2,200 of SMC workers were also given assistance amounting to Php 43.4 million. It also donated P35 million in food aid and water to various provinces. Students in Cebu were extended assistance through a P5 million donation to the UP “Tabang sa Iskolar ng Bayan” initiative.
SMC gives its all out support with no questions asked, expecting nothing in return. RSA’s attitude towards business puts people first. He believes helping people is paramount.
RSA sees his environment protection initiatives as a way of helping the country, not of earning money. According to him, businesses should not be only about profits but also about caring and sharing. After all when a person passes on, he would not be able to bring his material possessions, he said.