More than 150 employees and contractors of Energy Development Corporation (EDC) found themselves locked down away from home after community quarantine and strict travel restrictions were imposed in parts of the country in mid-March.
EDC employees and contractors often travel to or are temporarily assigned to different sites as part of their work programs.
“With electricity being an essential resource all the more needed now, the company doubled down on its commitment to keep uninterrupted, lifesaving power flowing into the grid, but we also had a duty to keep our plant employees and contractors—our very own front liners—safe and supported,” said Ana Marie Agapinan, EDC’s extrication project team lead. “We also knew that we had to get our stranded personnel home to their families as soon as we would be allowed to.”
Agapinan led a team that was assembled to orchestrate the extrication and return of stranded employees and contractors to their hometowns. Ariel Rogel Ampong, EDC operations excellence support head, was tasked to formulate the transportation plan and movement schedule along with Josephine Ao and Mheryl Espinosa.
“It was truly a concerted effort among several teams in the company,” said Ampong.
The planning brought together representatives from relevant operational units of the company, including security, facilities operations management (FOM) and Dr. Lina Rose Alcances, head of the company’s occupational health and incident management team. The team pivoted and adjusted plans to consider the guidelines of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the requirements of different local government units and other guidelines related to travel.
FOM admin heads Roderick Flores, Jonah Carmen Facturan, Albenya Portia Saw and Eduardo Morales Jr. were tasked to secure the permits, authorizations and clearances necessary for the transport of the stranded personnel. The final number of returnees was reduced to 54 as some had decided to stay in their current site.
The day of return was set for May 25. A 46-seater, twin turboprop aircraft chartered from AirSWIFT originating from Manila flew a total of six legs, all completed within a span of 12 hours. Passengers who alighted in Metro Manila were also brought to their homes in Makati, Mandaluyong, Bulacan, Batangas and Ilocos Sur.
“At the start, the extrication mission seemed impossible given the IATF limitations on physical movement,” said Flores. “However, EDC’s agile way of doing things contributed a lot in facilitating this complex operation.”
Geoscientist Roxanne Atayde was worried for her senior citizen parents in Bulacan at the start of the lockdown.
“I was relieved to know that management was working on an extrication plan while I was also kept very comfortable living in Leyte in the meantime. I am really grateful to EDC for their genuine concern for the welfare of their employees,” she said.
Neil John Escalera, an operations and maintenance resource support engineer sent to EDC’s geothermal facility in Valencia, Negros Oriental, said: “I was worried… since I was not with my family during this time of crisis. Fortunately, the company did not let us feel alone in this battle. They constantly communicated with us and let us know of their plans to return us home safely.”
“Throughout this pandemic we have been guided by our Lopez Values, in particular the value of employee welfare and wellness which has been at the top of our list since the pandemic started, and this extrication project and all the teamwork it inspired demonstrated that,” said Miguel de Vera, EDC sponsor of the extrication project.
He added: “For EDC to be able to fulfill its mission… and, at the same time, be able to support, care for and keep its people safe through this tough time—I don’t think we could have asked for more.”
(Story/Photos by: Frances Ariola)