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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Beyond business

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As biodiversity is essential in the stability of the ecosystem, all of us must do our share to prevent its loss

In previous articles, I have written about the importance of partnership between the government and the private sector in pursuing the country’s goal of a sustainable economic development.

Our country is not wanting of businesses who are actively involved in the projects of government through the public-private partnership scheme that became popular post EDSA People Power Revolution.

One of these is San Miguel Corporation, with its President and CEO Ramon S. Ang, which has been here for over a century and has witnessed the changing of political leaders through the years.

Unlike other business entities that had been identified with certain political factions, SMC has remained apolitical to date. Its commitment to help the government has not wavered no matter who sits as Chief Executive.

Beyond its private interests, SMC has trained its sights to helping improve the general climate for investments, provide economic opportunities for other Filipinos and advocate the protection of the environment for future generations.

It was also a very active partner of government at the height of the pandemic. These goals are very palpable in its projects across subsidiaries and in CSR programs.

Among its projects that will improve investment climate aside from generating employment are the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan and the recently awarded rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

These will ease travel, increase airport capacity and impact on logistics management, aside from contributing to the financial resources of government.

The SMC-led consortium’s bid offered to share 82.16 percent of future gross revenues, excluding Passenger Service Charges, with the government in addition to the fixed upfront fee of P 30 billion and annual fee of P 2 billion, both payable to the government.

In a statement, the consortium said “Our proposal is designed not only to elevate NAIA to world-class standards but also to ensure that the government benefits from the most advantageous revenue-sharing agreement. This aims to secure a favorable outcome for our shareholders while prioritizing fairness and long-term sustainability over immediate profits.”

Recently, SMC inaugurated its Saribuhay sa Dampalit project in Bulacan, the country’s first and largest Biodiversity Offset Program site.

Located in Barangay Pamarawan, Malolos, the Biodiversity Offset Program site covers 40 hectares with plans to expand to 800 hectares of offset sites across various areas.

The project complements developments in the New Manila International Airport area as it seeks to balance development efforts with environmental preservation, support local livelihoods and address flooding issues in Bulacan’s flood-prone areas.

Construction of the airport is being undertaken by San Miguel Aerocity, Inc., a subsidiary of SMC.

According to RSA, the project is an integrative approach to development that respects and enhances the natural environment alongside SMC’s infrastructure objectives.

“We firmly believe progress and nature can co-exist, benefiting both the ecosystem and the local community,” he said.

Saribuhay sa Dampalit has provided migratory birds with a rich feeding ground.

The project has also provided employment to Bulacan residents affected by the airport project and raised awareness on the importance of preserving migratory shorebirds.

This project is aligned with the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2028 which as articulated in the Philippine Development Plan envisions “increasing green spaces at the city and barangay levels will enhance environmental quality, reduce urban heat, promote biodiversity, and improve health and overall wellbeing. Increased awareness, understanding and appreciation of local communities and other stakeholders on the importance of green spaces shall be pursued and individual actions on urban greening will be encouraged.”

As biodiversity is essential in the stability of the ecosystem, all of us must do our share to prevent its loss.

Once more, SMC has shown us how the private sector can help in nation-building.

I hope what SMC has done and continues to do in helping engineer the country’s development will impel other organizations to do the same.

There is room for everyone to emulate what SMC has done. Nation-building, after all, needs collaboration and cooperation from all sectors of society.

It is worth remembering a quote attributed to American industrialist and business magnate Henry Ford that says “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”

(The author is president and executive director of the Million Trees Foundation Inc., a non-profit group advocating tree planting and watershed protection. He is also a book writer and publisher of biographical and coffee table books.)


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