San Miguel Corporation (SMC)-operated expressways have waived as much as P190.7 million worth of toll fees to medical frontliners.
SMC, which manages the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR), South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), Skyway system (including the newly opened Skyway Stage 3); NAIA Expressway (NAIAX), and Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), said that a total of 10,402 medical frontliners—including doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, and other medical workers—are still benefiting from the “no toll fees” policy in support of medical frontliners during this time of pandemic.
SMC president Ramon Ang said that the move expresses the company's gratitude to these brave, selfless individuals, and that their move to continue the free toll to them is their way to ease the everyday burden.
“One year on and the fight against COVID-19 continues. In fact, with this recent surge in cases, our medical frontliners are again facing a difficult challenge, and their lives are again at higher risk,” Ang was quoted as saying.
“We are so grateful to them, and proud that we have continued to help them and provide them this privilege of free toll fees for one whole year now. We hope that at least, it has lightened their burden, and that every day they go to work, they are reminded of how San Miguel and the whole country are grateful for their sacrifices,” he added.
The no-toll collection to SMC is just part of the efforts extended last year. Aside from that, they also donated PCR testing machines and testing kits, fully-automated RNA extraction machines, high-flow cannula respiratory machines, temporary quarantine facilities, life insurance for front liners, personal protective equipment, disinfecting alcohol, and free fuel for shuttle services.
“Even while our medical frontliners have already started received the vaccines, the threat of COVID-19 persists. It really falls on our collective shoulders to reduce the strain on our medical frontliners and workers. We can all do our part and contribute. For us, it’s through this program, and through our other initiatives that aim to keep our employees safe. Each of us can help out, just by following health protocols,” Ang noted.
While it is giving back to society, SMC did not put its own employees on the sidelines. Among the measures that they have placed are the strict implementation of health protocols and limited work place hours, regular testing of employees through its own RT-PCR laboratory, and allotting a P1-billion budget to cover the vaccines for its 70,000-strong workforce.
“While we wait for the life-saving vaccines to arrive for the rest of the population in the coming months, we need to be very vigilant in protecting ourselves and preventing an even bigger surge in cases,” Ang appealed.
“These safety measures which we all know by now—wearing of masks, face shields, washing of hands, keeping social distance—are key to limiting the spread of the disease and keeping all of us healthy and safe,” he added.
Photos from Ruben D. Manahan IV, San Miguel Corporation