Presidential adviser says he might be ‘divine guided’ in role vs pandemic
Businessman Joey Concepcion, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, offered a glimpse into the psyche behind his coronavirus testing initiative, Project Ark, saying his role in the fight against the pandemic was probably “divine guided.”
Concepcion made this comment at an online business conference, wherein he talked about how his father and his grandfather played key roles in nation-building during difficult moments in the country’s history, including martial law.
Joey, or Jose Maria Concepcion III, launched Project Ark earlier this year, a private sector testing initiative which popularized the use of rapid antibody test kits to see who among private sector workers may be infected.
“So my role today, with the vision of Ark, I find my role so unique and so, maybe, divine guided that three generations had their own specific roles in their own companies that they started and they carried forward from their predecessor. And now my turn,” he said.
He said this during his speech at one of the sessions of the 28th Metro Manila Business Conference on Thursday (Sept. 3). The online event was hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest business group in the country.
On behalf of hundreds of companies who joined the initiative, Project Ark ordered more than a million rapid antibody test kits, dismissing criticism of the medical community that said the quick and cheap tests can produce false negatives, which, in effect, can help spread the infection.
Lately, Concepcion has also been pushing for other cheap and quick testing methods like saliva test and antigen test. The Department of Health and Department of Trade and Industry had advised against the use of these testing methods on employees, though.
Project Ark is also currently funding pooled testing for select local governments, including those in Metro Manila. Simply put, pooled testing is an RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) done in small batches, wherein one group, in this case five people, would share one testing kit.
This is significantly cheaper compared to using one test kit per individual. Makati City has recently started its leg of the pilot program.
“There will always be disruptions along the way. During my grandfather’s time and my father’s time, martial law was then the pandemic,” Concepcion said.
Joey is currently running RFM Corp., a company which began in the flour milling business more than six decades ago under the leadership of his grandfather, Jose Concepcion Sr.
Now, it’s one of the country’s biggest food and beverage companies, running popular brands like Selecta.
His father, Jose Jr., also served in the company, but was more well known for helping bring back democracy, when he headed election watchdog Namfrel, or the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, during the Marcos dictatorship.
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