corporate

DOST invites local designers to develop ventilators for COVID19 treatment

May 1, 2020

With the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) together with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) is looking for designs of ventilators and respirators to augment the health care system cope with COVID-19 patients needing these medical devices. “As a leader in enabling scientific solutions through R&D, the DOST-PCIEERD together with PCHRD opens its doors to our innovators and researchers to share their innovations that will ultimately aid our government respond better to the pandemic and contribute to the healing of our nation,” said DOST-PCIEERD executive director Dr. Enrico Paringit. Paringit said the prototype must be made from medical-grade materials and components and should have an assist control (AC) mode, tidal volume, back-up or respiratory rate (RR), inspiration: expiration (I:E) ratio, fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2), alarms, and humidifier. DOST-PCIEERD will support activities related to design and development, prototyping, fabrication and assembly of the prototype, simulation, pre-accreditation testing and calibration in collaboration with the Electronics Product Development Center (EPDC) of the DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) and testing by an accredited inspection body of the government. Concept proposals, including preliminary works done, description of design, workplan, deliverables, with a letter of intent from the medical expert or hospital, and the budget should be sent through email at pcieerd@pcieerd.dost.gov.ph on or before 28 April 2020. For projects/prototypes that passed industrial standards, DOST-PCHRD will support the conduct of the clinical trials and other clinical acceptance protocols. DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya stressed the importance of evaluating the safety and efficacy of the ventilators. He said, “Ventilators are vital in ensuring that our patients, especially those confined in the ICU, are given the maximum care and support they need to recover. Aside from addressing the need to secure more ventilator units, we also have to make sure that the equipment we produce or procure are reliable and efficient.” Upon submission of proposal to DOST-PCHRD, the proponent must have partnered with medical experts, secured an ethics clearance from an institution capable of conducting clinical trials, and identified industry partner/s with a License-to-Operate (LTO) certificate from the Food and Drugs Administration – Philippines for mass production.  (S&T Media Service/Source:PCIEERD)y Information Institute

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Imported vehicle sales drop 34% in Q1 2020

April 30, 2020

THE Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) reported a 34-percent decline in sales for January to March this year, the group reported Tuesday.      AVID said vehicle sales in the first quarter of 2020 reached 14,404 units, lower than the 21,949 units sold in the same period of 2019.     The drop in sales of imported vehicles in the country is mainly due to the closure of dealership networks since the quarantine measure was implemented by the government to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.     “The industry is no stranger to adversity but this pandemic will be our toughest challenge yet. We estimate that it would take at least 12 months for the local industry to recover once the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) is completely lifted. There will be a ‘new normal’ and we must be quick to adapt since Filipino consumers will be even more prudent and looking for more value in their purchases,” AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said.     Sales of passenger cars in the first quarter of 2020 plunged by 43 percent to 4,506 units from 7,848 units sold in the first three months of last year.     Light commercial vehicles’ sales also dipped by 29 percent to 9,806 units in January to March 2020 from 13,862 unit sales during the same period last year.     “Demand has likewise declined as consumers spend on more urgent needs. With this disruption, we estimate that car sales may drop by around 40 percent for the year,” Perez-Agudo added. (PNA)  

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SMC gives workers full pay

April 30, 2020

SAN Miguel Corporation (SMC) has committed to grant full-time pay to all its employees and extended workforce as the ECQ remains in effect, even as it works round the clock mobilizing resources to help address the larger societal and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.     In a news release, SMC also announced that it has set aside P11.67 billion in tax, concession and contractual payments throughout the quarantine period to make available funds needed to respond effectively to the challenges of the pandemic.     Of the amount, SMC said it already paid government P8.77 billion, while the remaining balance will be remitted before the end of the ECQ.     Meanwhile, it has released full compensation with benefits amounting to over P3 billion for all its 66,557 employees, consultants and contract workers.     “These are trying times and while we, as a company, are not immune to the challenges of this crisis, the safety and security of our workforce will always come first. We do not want them worrying about their jobs,” SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said.     Ang said told SMC employees that he is “truly proud of the hard work that you, most especially our front-liners, have been doing in the midst of the challenges: delivering essential goods and services that are critical in this battle.”     To date, SMC and the businesses under it, have provided assistance of over P1 billion in the form of cash, food, flour, disinfectant alcohol, fuel, free toll and personal protective equipment (PPE) donations to vulnerable communities and front liners.     It has also built emergency quarantine facilities together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to help ease the pressure on health facilities flooded by patients needing intensive medical treatment resulting from the pandemic. (PR)  

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Pryce posts 9.4% rise in income at P396 M

April 30, 2020

LIQUEFIED petroleum gas (LPG) industry player Pryce Corporation has posted 9.4 percent income jump to P396.36 million in the first quarter of this year versus year-ago level of P362.35 million.     On a consolidated revenue basis, the company was able to inch that up by 24.2 percent to P3.18 billion from last year’s P2.56 billion.     “The company’s net income of P396.36 million represents 12.5 percent return on sales,” the Escano-led firm noted.     The upturn in the company’s financial performance, as noted, has been due to higher sales of its LPG cooking gas, along with its cylinders and accessories, as well as LPG gensets.     “LPG products accounted for 95.3 percent of total revenues, while the balance was covered by sales of industrial gases, real estate and pharmaceutical products,” the company said.     It added that “the rise in revenue is mainly due to the 15.1 percent growth in LPG sales volume,” which reached 58,745 metric tons (MT) in the first three months of the year versus 51,047 MT in the same period in 2019. Revenues had likewise been buoyed by higher average international LPG contract price of US$572 per metric ton within the January-March stretch as against last year’s US$465 per metric ton on a comparative period.     Relative to the persisting enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Pryce noted that this “only slightly affected the company’s first quarter performance since the ECQ was implemented near the end of the quarter (specifically on March 16, 2020).”     Nevertheless, it indicated that it is expecting the succeeding quarters “to be adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.” It has to be noted that ECQs are still prevailing in many parts of the country until May 15 this year.

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Aboitiz businesses to strengthen ‘agile’ approach in 2020 amid COVID-19 woes

April 29, 2020

Capex adjusted to P47 billion; P1.8 billion of internal and external aid to-date The Aboitiz Group and its business units are carefully weighing opportunities and further embracing an agile strategy in the execution of its 2020 plans with the ongoing global threat of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), “Digital infrastructure investments in previous years and regular business continuity planning have allowed us to cope with the adverse impact of COVID-19. While it’s anyone’s guess how the future will unfold, we assure our stakeholders that we are fully equipped and prepared to guarantee the continuity of all business transactions,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer. This comes as the Aboitiz Group began adjusting to a work environment that has vastly changed since the middle of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “One of the first steps we took was to protect our team members. We earmarked P900 million in assistance (early release of end-March salary and the 13th or 14th month pay) to help our team members cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. We did more online work, more work from home--preventive measures are going to be the name of the game until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed,” Aboitiz noted. Under the Department of Energy’s new Department Circular No. 2020-04-00080, communities that host power generation projects can now use their Energy Regulations 1-94 (ER 1-94) revenue shares from these facilities to combat the effects of COVID-19. About P500 million worth of ER 1-94 funds are currently available for AboitizPower’s host local government units for their COVID-19 response efforts. In addition, about P400 million in monetary and in-kind assistance were extended to serve affected communities as well as medical and government frontliners nationwide. To date, the Aboitiz Group has contributed P1.8 billion for its COVID-19 response efforts. This excludes various payments waived, reduced, extended, or restructured to help customers cope with the impact of COVID-19. For the most part, the Aboitiz Group is optimistic that it can weather potential headwinds.  “Most of our businesses are in industries that are vital to keeping the economy running. Filipinos need electricity, food products, and money, for example. And for our other businesses, we have been prudent in capital expenditure spending so this should not be much of a problem,” Aboitiz said. To keep the economy going, the Aboitiz Group is looking to spend P47 billion in 2020. Down by a third from the originally-set P73 billion capital expenditure (capex) figure, the new capex moves back some spending, considering the impact on the group’s and country’s future growth. Most of the capex reductions were from the infrastructure, power, and land units. These mostly covered operating, maintenance, and expansion costs. Power At present, Aboitiz Power Corporation’s power generation and power distribution facilities continue to operate 24/7 nationwide, delivering much-needed energy to areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).   “While the country’s total demand for power has dipped since the start of the ECQ, we are seeing an increase in consumption due to higher temperature. We also expect a gradual increase in demand as we adjust to the gradual easing of the quarantine,” said AboitizPower President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel V. Rubio. Unit 1 of GNPower Dinginin, an ongoing AboitizPower project considered to be of national significance, will synchronize by the fourth quarter of 2020 and will commence commercial operations by the first quarter of 2021. Unit 2 will synchronize by the first quarter of 2021 and will commence commercial operations by the second quarter of 2021.  Bank and Financial Services Union Bank of the Philippines has leveraged its successful digital transformation strategy in addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis with a large percentage of its branches remaining open. UnionBank’s balance sheet remains robust enough to withstand significant  financial impact, given its strong income results in 2019.  According to UnionBank President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista, the crisis has accelerated the coming of the digital world as the bank saw its digital customers increase tenfold during the ECQ. UnionBank had announced an upgrade of its existing UnionBank Online application to now enable users to directly transfer funds nationwide to remittance centers such as Cebuana Lhuillier, LBC, PeraHub, and soon, Palawan Express. This is very useful for clients who may need to transfer funds in areas under ECQ. Food Pilmico Foods Corporation’s plants in Tarlac and Iligan, as well as the company’s swine and poultry farms, continue to be operational since the start of local ECQs. Despite challenges, Pilmico continues with its operations and helps stakeholders meet their needs. Operating in an evolving retail landscape, Pilmico continues to address local demand for pork, meat, and eggs with “The Good Meat”, its food solutions brand and fulfillment center. An e-commerce platform has also been launched  in order to widen its reach and serve customers in Metro Manila.  For 2020, the Food group will continue the integration of Pilmico and Gold Coin, optimizing synergies in procurement, cross-selling across countries, and shared services in its corporate services units, and opening opportunities for the Aboitiz Group as a whole. Infrastructure Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. reiterated its support to the government’s ‘Build Build Build’ program as the private sector remains committed to collaborating with the country’s leaders to mitigate the crisis’ impact on the Philippine economy. The infrastructure business unit is closely reviewing the impact of COVID-19 on its projects, especially in the airport sector. For its bulk water supply unit Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc., the company  is closely coordinating with its contractors on which specific work streams can be executed amid Davao City’s ECQ, recovery time, and any implications on obligations with Apo Agua’s partners. Land Aboitiz Land, Inc. continues to prepare for an expected upswing in commercial real estate demand with its continuous planning of integrated townships such as LIMA Estate in Lipa City, Batangas, where it plans to develop commercial buildings and sell commercial lots in its upcoming business district. AboitizLand’s industrial business unit also expects fresh demand for new distribution centers and warehouse-type logistics facilities, especially as e-commerce booms. Aside from the said opportunity in the logistics space, there is an emerging demand related to manufacturing companies planning to exit China. Expansion plans to create additional inventory are underway for LIMA Technology Center in Batangas, and West Cebu Industrial Park in Cebu, to take advantage of this demand. Overall, AboitizLand expects the local real estate market to be quite resilient, with the large unmet demand for housing a significant contributing factor. AboitizLand’s early investments in contactless residential sales and marketing continue for the year and are now paying early dividends. Construction The Aboitiz Group’s privately-held construction arm Aboitiz Construction, Inc. continues to operate and work on its projects in Balamban, Cebu, and Mindanao, albeit with stricter precautions. The company hopes to immediately resume work on all its first and second quarter projects in ECQ-affected areas.  This is in line with the Aboitiz Group’s goal of keeping the economy stimulated with the immediate implementation of the government’s infrastructure program, especially projects of national significance.

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AboitizPower ER 1-94 remittances boost Davao City’s fight vs. COVID-19

April 29, 2020

Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower) continues to spread positive energy in Mindanao as the company has recently remitted its share of Energy Regulations 1-94 (ER 1-94) Program funds to the government of Davao City in support of its efforts to combat the effects of COVID-19. Davao City is one of the host beneficiaries of AboitizPower generation units Hedcor and Therma South, Inc. (TSI). Through ER 1-94, these two AboitizPower units have now remitted P14 million to the city’s local government. As the Department of Energy (DOE) also prepares to remit its share of funds through the program, the local government of Davao City is slated to receive a grand total of P26 million. In a statement, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio expressed her profound gratitude to AboitizPower on behalf of the city. “This funding relief couldn’t have come at a more opportune time when resources are badly needed by local governments to battle COVID-19. We thank DOE, as well as Hedcor and Therma South of AboitizPower for making this proactive move and providing us with additional resources to help step up our anti-COVID campaign,” she said. On April 6, the DOE issued Department Circular 2020-004-00080, dictating that the ER 1-94 funds received by host communities of power generation companies may now be used in full for efforts towards managing the effects of COVID-19. AboitizPower has since shown its full support for its beneficiaries nationwide, as local government units throughout the country continue their battle against the new coronavirus. About half a billion pesos worth of ER 1-94 funds are currently available for AboitizPower’s host LGUs across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao for their COVID-19 response efforts. The ER 1-94 Program is a policy under the DOE Act of 1992 and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), which stipulates that host communities receive one centavo share for every kilowatt-hour (P0.01/kWh) generated by power plants operating in its area. With COVID-19 greatly affecting our communities and livelihood, AboitizPower remains steadfast in its commitment to extending every possible form of assistance where it is needed.  

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