Makati City, Philippines—Over the past two decades, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. chairman Manuel Pangilinan has strived to answer what to him is the all-important question: How do we build a nation?
Always, the local business stalwart would return to the basic answer which has been the guiding strategy for the infrastructure conglomerate he founded in 2006.
“We invest heavily in infrastructure in the Philippines because it is an essential building block of nation-building,” declared Pangilinan, who continues to head MPIC as the country gradually emerges from the nightmare that is the COVID-19 pandemic.
Culture of “malasakit”
Along the way, the chairman, or MVP as he is invariably called, has pushed his organization to incorporate a culture of “malasakit” or “care” that he believes, with proper guidance and support, can confer on anyone the power to change their lives and rise above any crisis or setback.
MPIC, which is committed to contributing to the achievement of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, seeks to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation” as its anchor.
“This is our group’s sustainability philosophy: integrate business and environmental stewardship in all our investment strategies,” Pangilinan said.
Now in its 15th year, MPIC continues to help build the nation through major investments in power distribution and energy innovations, urban water concession, network of road tollways, upgrading hospitals and health services.
Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. is poised to launch new projects that will be significant for economic recovery. These projects include the P92-billion NLEX-CAVITEX Port Expressway Link, the P71-billion C5 Expressway Project and the P16-billion Harbor Link Port Access Mobility Facility Project.
MPTC also expects to complete the P31-billion new expressway in Cebu province by February next year, while the España Boulevard section, or the first 5 kilometers of NLEX Connector, will be completed by first quarter next year.
The next 3-km elevated section between España Interchange and the vicinity of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila is expected to commence construction within the year.
MPCALA Holdings Inc. expects to complete the entire 45-kilometer Cavite-Laguna Expressway by early 2023.
CALAX is a P56-billion road infrastructure project granted by DPWH to MHI, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. It is a high-speed road network connecting the provinces of Cavite and Laguna, aiming to serve around 45,000 motorists upon completion.
Roads and other transportation facilities, power generation and other utilities, and communications systems are what are referred to as “core” infrastructure. Transport networks connect producers and consumers to markets, utilities provide essential inputs such as power and water for both production and consumption, and communications networks facilitate the exchange and dissemination of information and knowledge.
As such, infrastructure is an indispensable input in an economy’s production, one that is highly complementary to other more conventional inputs such as labor and non-infrastructure capital.
The Metro Pacific Group provides electricity (via Meralco), water (Maynilad), telecommunications (PLDT and Smart), and builds and maintains a massive network of roads, among others.
For a developing country like the Philippines, the impact of new infrastructure projects is pronounced. All the road projects mentioned are expected to help ease port congestion and provide alternate routes to businesses getting their goods out of the Manila-based ports.
MPIC is also in the process of embracing digital transformation with its partnership with software firm SAP.
MPIC is the first organization in the Philippines to adopt the digital solution RISE with SAP on Amazon Web Services as part of its broader business transformation strategy.
RISE with SAP is a subscription service that combines a set of services and product offerings that helps a company become an “intelligent enterprise.”
“Our commitment to contribute to national progress and improve the quality of lives in the communities we serve is anchored on the strength of our various operating companies,” said Chaye Cabal-Revilla, MPIC’s chief finance, risk and sustainability officer.
Ramping up CSR
MPIC was recently recognized at the 11th Asian Excellence Awards, earning six recognitions for corporate governance, investor relations, and corporate social responsibility.
Awards included Asia’s Best CEO (Investor Relations) for Jose Ma. Lim; Asia’s Best CFO (Investor Relations) for Chaye Cabal-Revilla; Best Investors Relations Professional for MPIC VP for Investor Relations Maricris Aldover-Ysmael; Best Investor Relations Company (Philippines); Best Environmental Responsibility;, and Asia’s Best CSR.
The Asian Excellence Awards recognizes excellence in management acumen, financial performance, corporate social responsibility, environmental practices and investor relations.
Support to MSMEs
Cabal-Revilla recently shared MPIC’s corporate-wide strategy through the United Nations Global Compact Network Philippines’s Sustainability Summit held in November.
The two-day online event launched the 10-in-10 Private Sector Champions—an initiative formed to transform into concrete action the 10-in-10 Business Ambition, a recovery and sustainability roadmap to support micro, small and medium enterprises.
MSMEs help reduce poverty by creating jobs for the country’s growing labor force, Cal-Revilla explained. They stimulate economic development in rural and far-flung areas. They also serve as a breeding ground for new entrepreneurs and large corporations.
“We really feel that enabling MSMEs and improving the lives of Filipinos and the communities that we serve as part of our purpose, is also really enabling our business because they are our customers as well,” Cabal-Revilla said. “If we empower them and they thrive, this benefits all of us—their families, our businesses and our country’s economy.
MPIC likewise achieved the highest level ‘A’ rating in the Global Listed Infrastructure Organization/Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark ESG Index for Infrastructure in 2021.
The GLIO is the representative body for the $3-trillion market capitalization listed infrastructure asset class.
The GRESB provides financial markets with standardized and validated company data on environmental, social and corporate governance.
Companies must derive 75 percent of EBITDA from infrastructure groups such as energy, transportation and storage, communications infrastructure, transportation, renewable energy, and regulated network utilities to be eligible for the GLIO/GRESB ESG.
“Only 19 companies achieved the highest level ‘A’ rating from the 160 in the GLIO/GRESB ESG Index for infrastructure,” said GLIO CEO Fraser Hughes. “It’s a fantastic achievement”.
MPIC was also recognized recently at this year’s #BIGAwards
Organized by the Business Intelligence Group, the BIG Awards recognizes talent and superior performance in the business world. For MPIC, big winners included Melody Del Rosario, VP for PR and corporate communication, who bagged the PR Executive of the Year plum; and MPIC’s PR & Corp. Comm. Department for being acknowledged as the PR Department of the Year.
Del Rosario’s team was recognized for their role in building and maintaining MPIC’s brand image, and integrating corporate social responsibility into its communication framework through the Metro Pacific Investments Foundation.
Del Rosario personally developed Shore It Up!, the foundation’s flagship environmental program, making MPIF a top-of-mind organization for the protection and conservation of coastal and underwater ecosystems.
“The work we do, coupled with the lasting impact of our commitment to the environment, social responsibility and corporate governance, is a story worth telling,” said Del Rosario.