The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Surigao del Norte and other partner stakeholders, spearheaded the Blessing and Inauguration of the PRC Molecular Laboratory on January 13, 2021 at Km. 9, Barangay Bonifacio, Surigao City.
Bishop Antonieto D. Cabahug, D.D. of the Diocese of Surigao led the blessing rites of the PRC Molecular Laboratory. Congressman Francisco Jose Matugas II of the 1st District of Surigao del Norte; Provincial Vice Governor Eddie “Geed” Gokiangkee, Jr. of Surigao del Norte; Mayor Ernesto U. Matugas, Jr. of Surigao City; Ms. Genevieve P. Chua, Community Relations Manager of THPAL Nickel Corporation; and Mr. Jose Bayani Baylon, Vice President for Corporate Communications of Nickel Asia Corporation delivered messages at the event. Department of Health Caraga Regional Director Jose Llacuna Jr., Philippine Red Cross-Surigao del Norte Chairman Arturo Carlos A. Egay, Jr., Philippine Red Cross-Surigao del Norte Chapter Administrator Marilou E. Talingting, and Surigao State College of Technology President Gregorio Z. Gamboa, Jr. attended the event. Officers of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office No. XIII also attended the event to represent Regional Director Glenn Marcelo C. Noble who supported the initiative to establish the molecular laboratory and collaborated with the mining firms. On the same note, local chief executives, representatives of various government agencies and officers of mining firms took part in the event.
No less than Senator Richard J. Gordon graced the event as its honoured guest in his capacity as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Red Cross. In his speech, Sen. Gordon commended the frontliners and volunteers who continue to work hard in order to stop COVID-19 from spreading. “All we need is good leadership like you have here. Leadership that has a vision that draws out the values and the best in us… You cannot achieve anything unless you work hard to put duty, dignity and determination first no matter how hard the task is. We should fight. The task of the leader like Red Cross is to uplift human dignity and to make sure that we reach out to the most vulnerable,” stated Sen. Gordon.
In the same way, Sen. Gordon said the facility would be expanded in the future to accommodate student research and handle testing for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Zika virus, leukemia, cancer and other diseases. “If we have a common vision to unite the community, we must always have the common good at hand. That will bring progress and development to our country. Tomorrow is not tomorrow. Tomorrow begins now. We look at the past to learn and we fortify ourselves today and we make sure that we win the future. We would not be afraid of the future. We would not fear the future. We will make the future our friend… In the meantime, let us continue to use the swab test so we will be able to quell the enemy. And the enemy today is the virus, COVID-19. And we are going to prevail. Instead of COVID, we are going to call it Cooperation in Victory and Development. We must believe in it. And we must prevent it from spreading! We must prevent the virus from taking territory so it will not spread. And the idea now is to always think forward. Make our community safe but at the same time one eye is in the future,” added Sen. Gordon.
Sen. Gordon thanked the mining firms for their significant contribution. He said that he will support mining so long as it is responsible. After affirming the important role of mining in daily life, he said that he looks forward to visit the Caraga mines and see for himself that the stakeholders truly carry out responsible mining. He is hopeful that people can come up with products that can be used by the Philippines aside from just drawing from the resources of the earth.
Towards the end of his speech, Sen. Gordon acknowledged the collaborative efforts of all sectors and stakeholders in the successful establishment of the facility. He also thanked the Surigao State College of Technology for providing the land for the facility. “I salute all of you,” heartily expressed Sen. Gordon.
The mining-funded facility will serve the entire Caraga Administrative Region and nearby provinces for efficient testing needs of the people. It is equipped with two Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) machines and one ribonucleic acid (RNA) extractor that can analyze up to 2,000 specimens a day.
THPAL Nickel Corporation (THPAL), Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) and Cagdianao Mining Corporation (CMC) have pooled their resources together and gave an PhP18-million donation to the Philippine Red Cross in order to establish the said facility which is the second of its kind in Caraga Region. THPAL donated PhP15 million while TMC and CMC donated PhP3 Million. These mining companies laid emphasis on the importance of a testing facility so as to capacitate further the COVID-19 testing needs in the region.
The Provincial Government of Surigao del Norte, Surigao City Government and mining firms such as Platinum Group Metals Corporation, THPAL and TMC, together with various contractors, provided the dump trucks and helped in the backfilling of the 2,000-square meter facility lot.