Glicerio Candido Jr., one of the facility operations shift leads of geothermal leader Energy Development Corporation (EDC), has been working on night duty at the Tongonan Geothermal Power Plant in Leyte. He is part of a rotating set of teams that work and live onsite in the company’s temporary housing facility for two weeks, after which another team will replace them for another two weeks.
Similarly, Earl Arsua, a senior production engineer assigned in EDC’s Upper Mahiao Power Plant, had to put on hold his usual playtime with his two daughters when he started his 14-day work away from home schedule. Good thing that EDC has provided comfortable sleeping quarters and WiFi access to make sure that physical distance was not a hindrance to keeping in touch with his loved ones.
This has been their new, though interim, way of working as members of EDC’s own frontliners who help the company ensure its uninterrupted supply of clean, renewable energy for the country amid the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We have been strictly practicing physical distancing and wearing PPE [personal protective equipment] on and off duty. Though we are away from our families, I think we’re in a better position now since it’s safer here. We have less exposure to crowded places and our families are also away from the possible threat of the virus that we could get if we will continue commuting to and from work,” said Candido.
Both he and Arsua are thankful to the company for looking out for the welfare of employees such as them more so in the time of this COVID-19 crisis. They appreciate EDC’s continued financial support in terms of their salary and other additional benefits.
“Dapat nga po magpasalamat pa tayo sa company na may work pa tayo. ‘Yung iba nga nawala ‘yung trabaho nila at wala nang kita, kawawa naman ‘yung family nila [We should be thankful to the company because we are still able to work. Others have been laid-off and they have no income to provide for their family’s needs],” Candido added.
With all Filipinos affected by COVID-19 and no clear signs yet of the definitive end to this pandemic, EDC management and the rest of its workforce have been fully committed to keeping the lights on for its customers.
EDC President and Chief Operating Officer Richard B. Tantoco emphasized the country’s need for power to ensure that industries, especially healthcare facilities working hard to treat patients afflicted with the deadly disease, will have a steady supply of electricity: “I cannot stress this enough, that we need to keep our plants running for as long as we can and right now. How can hospital Intensive Care Units function without energy? How can oxygen tanks be filled for hospital use if our power is not available?”
The company has also been going through great lengths to provide not only work-related and financial provision but even emotional support to its employees amid the lockdown that is enforced not only in Luzon but even in other parts of the country. It has likewise committed to find ways to continuously compensate its project workers such as drivers, pantry and office maintenance, security, and others who have been affected by the company’s shift to non-office operations.
In turn, numerous employees have been paying it forward either through the company’s fundraising activities for frontliners and daily contractors like drivers, office cleaners and security guards or through their personal efforts in their respective communities. EDC employee donations to ABS-CBN’s Pantawid ng Pag-ibig have already reached over P1.9 million to date.
EDC is also involved in raising P100 million for quarantine facilities for returning seafarers and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) inside Pier 15 at the Manila South Harbor, as well as a joint project with Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson and The Medical City that provided temporary shelter at the Metrotent COnvention Center for employees of the hospital.
EDC has provided a total of P12 million worth of assistance to its partner local government units (LGUs) and communities, which included the lending of 20- to 40-foot container vans that public hospitals are now using either as quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients or as sleeping quarters for its medical frontliners. The company has also donated sacks of rice good for 14,000 households and provided masks, thermal scanners, personal protective equipment and other items to medical frontliners and those who are manning checking points in its areas of operation.
EDC’s 1,475MW total installed capacity generates 37% of the country’s total renewable energy, with its 1,181MW geothermal portfolio accounting for 61% of the country’s total installed geothermal capacity and putting the Philippines on the map as the world’s 3rd largest geothermal producer.