Business Life

Aboitiz bolsters economic support amid GCQ & MGCQ

THE Aboitiz Group is sustaining the economic “lifeline” it has previously extended to its business units’ customers and clients as most areas in the Philippines entered general community and modified general community quarantines (GCQ & MGCQ) beginning June 1.

This move will ensure the unimpeded delivery of goods and services and mitigate the impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by stimulating economic activity.

“The government’s directive to gradually lift the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon in light of the nation’s continuing battle against COVID-19 has allowed several essential businesses to return to operations one step at a time. As #OneAboitiz, we will continue to offer support to our customers and clients nationwide as we all navigate this “new normal” and prepare for the gradual resumption of business and overall economic activity once this crisis is over,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Power

Aboitiz Power Corporation, which operates various power generation and power distribution facilities nationwide, announced that its sites will remain operational throughout the GCQ and MGCQ period, ensuring that its right mix portfolio of power assets are ready and able to meet the needs of customers nationwide.

“All of our sites for generation and distribution are operating despite the instituted lockdowns. Delivering adequate and reliable power supply is our way of spreading #PositiveEnergy in these challenging times,” said Emmanuel V. Rubio, AboitizPower President and CEO.

Currently, customers of AboitizPower distribution units Visayan Electric, Davao Light, and Cotabato Light enjoy the convenience of easy access to their monthly electricity information via the MobileAP mobile application (app). Available for free download, MobileAP allows customers to check their monthly electricity bills, view payment history, and access bill charts through their mobile phones.

Visayan Electric, the country’s second-largest privately-owned distribution utility, has particularly made transactions easier for its shareholders and customers alike. Shareholders were able to virtually join the company’s Annual Stockholders’ Meeting last May 19, while customers enjoyed installment payment arrangements in line with the May 22 Energy Regulatory Commission advisory. A customer hotline has also been set up to receive inquiries on electric consumption and bill estimates.

Banking & Financial Services

Union Bank of the Philippines, meanwhile, has extended loan payment deadlines (including credit card, housing, and automobile loans) and the waiving of online InstaPay transfer fees via the UnionBank Online app until June 15. Via its financial technology arm UBX, UnionBank has also offered loans to small businesses coping with the impact of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)-related measures.

During the early part of the ECQ, UnionBank announced an upgrade of its existing online app to enable users to directly transfer funds nationwide to remittance centers such as Cebuana Lhuiller, LBC, PERA HUB, and Palawan Express. This feature continues to be useful for clients who may need to transfer funds in areas under MECQ or GCQ.

“This was a project we were talking about even before the lockdown. We were able to do it in just three weeks. This shows how the agile way of working has really taken root,” said Edwin R.  Bautista, UnionBank President and CEO.

To help customers gain knowledge on the benefits of digital banking, UnionBank also rolled out “UnionBank Talks Digital,” a series of talks and educational sessions featuring banking industry leaders

UnionBank has also continued to deploy its 5G-enabled mobile banking kiosk “Bank on Wheels” to various parts of Metro Manila. It has also continued support to key industries like petroleum, food manufacturing, food packaging, food retail/ wholesale, logistics, brokerage, transport, health care and health-related firms to guarantee that the country’s supply chain is not disrupted.

UnionBank subsidiary CitySavings has extended 30-day grace period for loan due dates falling within the ECQ and modified ECQ periods in compliance with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. As of May 26, a number of CitySavings branches are already open nationwide with shortened operating hours to serve its customers.

Food

Pilmico Foods Corporation, the food business unit of the Aboitiz Group, is addressing the demand for food products in select areas in Metro Manila through its homegrown retail, wholesale, and solutions brand “The Good Meat.” Through “The Good Meat,” Pilmico started delivering pork meat, and eggs within Metro Manila. 

“Our company remains committed to helping sustain the food value chain by consistently being present and delivering raw materials needed to continue food production,” said Tristan R. Aboitiz, President and CEO of Pilmico.

Pilmico has ensured unhampered production in its flour, farms, and feeds facilities to contribute to food sustainability in the country. 

“The flour and feed mills in Iligan and Tarlac, as well as farms, continue to operate, serving the needs of the customers despite challenges in logistics and distribution which can be attributed to COVID-19,” Tristan Aboitiz added.

The company continues to provide total customer solutions for baking, livestock raising and management needs through digital platforms such as Facebook communities for online consultations to ensure both customers and team members are protected while addressing customers’ needs. Pilmico also extends its online services to virtual or “e-customer visits.” Through video calls, key department managers and their teams provide extended business reviews and guidance to Pilmico’s clients. 

One example is the Pilmico-Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Bake/Cook with Chef Webinar Series, an online avenue for learning and skills development for Pilmico customers, which include small- and medium-bakery owners and home bakers.

Launched last May 26, the series will air three times per month via Zoom and Facebook until after the GCQ period. The series’ first episode was reposted on the Pilmico Flour Facebook page.

Infrastructure and Land

Lima Water Corporation, an Aboitiz InfraCapital unit, is ramping up its operations in Lima Technology Center with the imposition of GCQ in Batangas. 

To support the ramp-up of locators’ water demand as quarantine measures relax, Lima Water has been constantly ensuring that its water and wastewater facilities within the industrial park are well-maintained and ready for adjustment.

The water utility also introduced alternative payment options for locators for their convenience. In addition, to keep locators safely updated on the latest company information, announcements, and water quality results, Lima Water recently launched its company website, http://www.limawatercorp.com

AboitizLand’s commercial establishments, The Outlets at Lipa in Batangas and The Outlets at Pueblo Verde in Cebu, have reopened to serve community needs following local GCQ directives. Retail shops are now open implementing strict safety measures and social distancing protocols. Restaurants also remain open, offering delivery and take-out transactions only. 

In addition, AboitizLand’s residential sales team remains ready to serve the country’s housing needs amid the need for a safe and secure sanctuary. The company has adopted digital and contactless selling to make it safe and convenient for vecinos (clients) to purchase a home.

Construction

Aboitiz Construction, Inc.’s customers (most of which are key players in various industries) continue to do business with the company via video conferencing, chat applications, and other multiple digital tools. In preparation for the resumption of work in project sites, Aboitiz Construction has implemented strict safety protocols to ensure that all stakeholders and team members are protected from acquiring the virus.  

“We continue to find innovative ways in keeping our clients warm and diligently update them on our business continuity plan, and process improvements as we become more agile and forward-thinking through the use of various digital tools,” said Felma R. Yap, Aboitiz Construction First Vice President – Business Development & Tender Planning.

Yap’s team now hosts price reviews, holds issue resolution consultations, and relays cost improvement options for customers through various Web tools.|-BNN