BIZ BUZZ: TRB counters anti-PAREx disinformation
After weeks of being pummeled in the press and on social media, the government agency directly involved in the regulation of the proposed expressway that will be built by San Miguel Corp. alongside the Pasig River has finally spoken up to take up the cudgels for the project.
Biz Buzz was shown a copy of a letter written by Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) executive director Alvin Carullo to Move As One Coalition coconvenor Robert Siy—one of the most vocal critics of project—debunking point by point the issues raised against the P95-billion roadway.
“At the outset, it bears emphasis that, contrary to what is being peddled to the media, the technical, financial and legal aspects of the Pasig River Expressway (PAREx) project had undergone a long and tedious vetting process from the time the joint investment proposal was submitted to TRB on Nov. 26, 2019, up to the board’s approval of the supplemental toll operation agreement on Sept. 8, 2021,” the official said.
Of course, the project’s critics were saying that the approval process for the project was railroaded because it came out of nowhere and was allegedly given the green light in record time. Not so, said the TRB, which noted that the project was studied for almost two years before it received the thumbs up.
Carullo said that San Miguel was made to jump through several hoops to obtain the TRB’s approval. “As to the environmental and social concerns that you cited in your letter, the same were duly raised by the representatives of the TRB member-agencies, specifically by the National Economic and Development Authority, and these were deliberated, discussed and considered during the numerous secretariat, technical working group, and board meetings,” the official said.
More importantly, to protect and safeguard the cultural heritage which may be affected by the project, and considering the other government infrastructure projects within the area, Carullo said San Miguel was required to execute an undertaking “to adjust, modify or otherwise alter aspects of the proiect’s alignment, design and construction to harmonize and achieve coexistence with other government or government-sponsored projects.” So now that the facts have been laid out to counter the disinformation, will the project’s critics take heed? Abangan!
—Daxim L. Lucas
HR amid pandemic
This prolonged pandemic has proven to be very costly for business owners and managers, but it’s a price many of them are more than willing to pay to protect their manpower, customers and the broader community.
In the case of the Ayala conglomerate, group-wide COVID response package as of this October has reached over P19.5 billion, including emergency financial response package for direct and indirect employees’ salary continuance, leave conversions and loan deferments.
John Philip Orbeta—chief human resources (HR) officer of Ayala Corp. for 16 years (and recently appointed as chief administrative officer and chief HR officer of AC Energy)—talked about pandemic challenges at the panel discussion “The New People People” hosted by The Economist.
Ayala is one of the three Philippine corporations that made it to Forbes’ 2021 list of the “World’s Best Employers,” which Ayala chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala credited to Orbeta and his team.
Speaking alongside HR leaders from Standard Chartered and tech startup Zilingo, Orbeta said Ayala had always had a “people-first” perspective in addressing the pandemic, prioritizing the health and well-being of employees across the group.
“There was never a question about making sure that we continue to pay our employees despite them not physically coming to work. The true north for leaders is: what is the right thing to do here?’” Orbeta said.
Since March last year, Ayala empowered its personnel to work under a remote setting weeks before government announced the nationwide lockdown. A quarantine facility for employees had been put up, alongside a dedicated healthcare hotline and teleconsultation service, including an in-house bot called Assistant during Crises and Emergencies for daily health and risk assessments to monitor employees and household members. According to Orbeta, Ayala also prioritized employees of vendor partners given their crucial role to the value chain. From 60,000 direct employees, Ayala group extended its service to its 120,000 indirect employees. With the reopening of the economy, Ayala’s reentry plan included redesigning the workplace and providing tools and protective equipment. It also administers 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for employees and their registered dependents and business partners, half of which had been executed.
—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla INQ
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