COVID-19 was an unexpected crisis, one that the Philippine health system and the rest of our country had not been prepared for. As the number of COVID-19 cases and subsequent death rates rose, the Department of Health increased their efforts to flatten the curve and save as many people as they could. As the local government and agencies started the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine and people were forced to isolate themselves, their livelihood and access to essential goods were put at risk.
Being committed to the needs of its partner communities, Lopez-led Energy Development Corporation (EDC) immediately extended its help by distributing fuel, medical supplies, and rice assistance to its partner communities. The geothermal leader continued to provide clean, uninterrupted power supply that kept important facilities and establishments running and sent over more than PHP2.5 million worth of in-kind donations and support to the local government units last April.
As of September, there are currently more than 1,700 cases in the Bicol region according to DOH-CHD Director Dr. Ernie D. Vera. The lack of proper equipment and facilities affected the province’s efforts to control the spread of the virus.
With that, EDC refocused its COVID-19 resiliency efforts, from food and supply donations to initiatives that will enhance the mass testing capabilities of its host communities in Bicol. Through a partnership with the Department of Health – Center for Health and Development (DOH-CHD) Bicol, EDC donated PHP 4.2 million to fund the expansion and refurbishment of the health center’s building and one of the only two Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)-accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories in the Bicol Region.
The partnership between EDC and DOH-CHD Bicol was made official this September through a virtual signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Agreement and Deed of Donation led by Regional Director of DOH-CHD Bicol, Dr. Ernie D. Vera; Assistant Regional Director, Ferchito Avelino; Chief of the Management Support Division, Norberto Balane Jr.; Cluster Head for Infectious and Communicable Disease, Dr. Jannish Alcala Arellano; EDC Senior Vice President and OIC of Facilities, Operations, and Maintenance Group Engr. Liberato S. Virata; Asst Vice President and Corporate Support Functions Head Regina Victoria J. Pascua; Corporate Social Responsibility-Public Relations Head Atty. Allan V. Barcena; Engr. Marcel Rosario, head of EDC’s Bacon-Manito (BacMan) Geothermal Facility; and BacMan CSR Head Eduardo Jimenez.
“EDC puts a great premium on community development and resiliency. I have seen what we can accomplish by working hand in hand with the local government and I look forward to the beginning of a more dynamic partnership with DOH and other key agencies in ensuring that the people are healthy and safe,” said Virata in his message during the virtual MOA signing ceremony.
“Malaking bagay ang partnership namin with EDC in controlling the spread of COVID-19 by increasing our testing capacity. We believe this partnership will be a best practice for us in government. For everyone’s information, we are the first regional agency that partnered with a private organization, a power company. It is an honor for us to have EDC as a partner,” said Dr. Vera.
The expansion and refurbishment of the DOH laboratories will ramp up the region’s testing capabilities and help them gather the necessary information to find ways to further flatten the curve and manage the pandemic in the area. EDC operates the 140-MW Bacon-Manito Geothermal Project that supplies clean and reliable power to the Luzon grid. It is a global pioneer in the geothermal energy industry and the country’s largest vertically-integrated geothermal developer, supplying 1,457.8MW of clean and renewable energy to the Philippines.