PLDT, Razon group to lead Tacloban rehab

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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The government promises them 'business potential' in areas rehabilitated after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

'BUSINESS POTENTIAL' SEEN. Telecommunications giant PLDT and the Razon group, which runs ports, will 'shepherd' the rehabilitation of Tacloban. File photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – In a rehabilitation program that offers business potential, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and the group of Enrique Razon will lead the rebuilding of the city worst hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Rehabilitation Undersecretary Danilo Antonio disclosed this Friday, January 24, after his boss, Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson, said 9 big companies have “adopted” Yolanda-hit communities.

In an interview with reporters after a forum in Makati City, Antonio said PLDT and the Razon group will “shepherd” the rehabilitation not only of Tacloban City in Leyte, but also of the province of Capiz.

PLDT remains the leading telecommunications company in the Philippines, while the Razon group runs International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI), a port operator, and Bloomberry Resorts Corporation, which develops casinos such as Solaire.

The two groups haven’t specified their pledges, Antonio said, but have begun studying the sectors that will need their help after Yolanda killed more than 6,000 people and affected 16 million others.

Development sponsors like them will focus on schools, hospitals, housing, and livelihood, according to Antonio. The government, in turn, will focus on roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

Para naman hindi mabilaukan ‘yung ating mga sponsor. Baka sabihin eh sila na lang, matakot tuloy,” Antonio said. (We do this so that our sponsors wouldn’t get overwhelmed. They might think we’re asking them to do everything.)

Having worked in the real estate industry for more than two decades, Antonio knows the private sector well. He used to serve as chief operating officer of Lucio Tan’s Eton Properties, managing director for Filinvest’s mall operations, and executive of Ayala’s real estate division, among others.

Miner ‘adopts’ Guiuan

He said other development sponsors will focus on Eastern Samar, the province hardest hit by Yolanda next to Leyte.

Antonio said the Zamora group, which owns the mining firm Nickel Asia, will take care of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Yolanda first made landfall in Guiuan on Nov 8, 2013.

He said the government will release a list of development sponsors, along with the areas they adopted, next week.

On Thursday, January 23, Lacson said the following companies pledged “to shepherd or take the lead in the reconstruction and rehabilitation” of at least two thirds of the typhoon-hit communities:

  • Lopez Group of Companies

  • Ayala Corporation

  • Aboitiz Foundation

  • PLDT-Smart

  • SM Group of Companies

  • Metrobank


  • Jollibee-Mang Inasal

  • Robinsons Land Corporation

EASIER TO TALK TO. Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson tells reconstruction experts at a forum in Makati that he wants to engage the private sector more because they are easier to talk to. Government should be a fallback, he says. Photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

Earlier, Lacson said these groups will adopt Yolanda-hit communities with “no strings attached,” as part of their corporate social responsibility. He said the “business potential” in rehabilitated communities is their only incentive. (READ: Giant firms pledge to lead Haiyan rehab)

Lacson, a former police chief, said he wants to maximize the participation of the private sector. The good thing about private companies, he said in Filipino, is that “they have their own capability, capacity, funds, management systems in place, and their own auditing rules.”

Holding them accountable

A crucial question, however, is how to hold these companies accountable if they don’t deliver. What if they fail, for instance, to build the schools that the government entrusted them with?

Antonio didn’t state any categorical punishment. In the first place, he said, “they’re donating.”

“So to the extent that they can help, as long as they promise to do certain things, and then we’ll go by results…. So we hope they’d be able to deliver what they promised. But this is help. This is sponsorship. They are not obliged to do it. So that’s why we just have to make sure that they will do it,” he said.

The government banks on their reputation. 

Kaya nga sila ang pinagawa natin. Hindi sila puwedeng maayos nang hindi nila ginagawa ‘yon. May timetable sila eh. So hindi sila magko-commit kung hindi nila kaya gawin kasi mas malaking kahihiyan, ‘di ba? Eh may pangalan silang pinoproteksyonan,” Antonio said.

(That’s why we asked them to do this. They can’t afford not to deliver. They have a timetable. They wouldn’t commit if they can’t do it, or else they face a bigger embarrassment, right? They have a name to protect.)

“They will definitely do a good job,” he said. “Failure is not an option for these big conglomerates.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email