MANILA – The 2GO Group, Inc. (2GO) has waived the operational fee for two of the company’s ships used as quarantine facilities for repatriated overseas Filipino workers.
In a statement on Thursday, 2GO chairman, Dennis Uy, said the firm “had no plans of accepting” the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) offer to pay a PHP35 million fee for the operation of the quarantine ships as it was meant as a donation to help in the nation’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“To set the record straight, actual cost to operate the two vessels as quarantine facilities is at PHP260 million. But this was intended to be a donation,” he said.
While he is not the sole owner or the majority shareholder of 2GO, Uy said he instructed the company to waive the payment from the DOTr and if necessary, charge the ships’ operational cost to his personal funds.
The statement came after Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, in a Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday, said the use of 2GO’s ships would cost the government PHP35 million, compared to the original rental fee for the two ships of PHP120 million each for two months.
Following Tugade’s remark, the cost of the ships drew the ire of netizens.
In response to online critics, Uy agreed that “we as Filipinos, whether in private or in government, have to work together, jointly make the necessary sacrifice, stand together to safeguard the lives and safety of our countrymen” and apologized for those offended by the former operational cost of the ships.
In a statement, the DOTr welcomed the waiving of fees and thanked Uy.
It clarified that while the PHP35 million fee was earlier decided through a negotiating panel with executives of 2GO, Uy was not involved in the decision.
“It is therefore unfortunate and deplorable that Mr. Dennis Uy was unfairly dragged by media and was at the receiving end of negative commentaries when he was never part of the discussion and was not even mentioned by Secretary Tugade in his interview,” the department said.
Since the start of operations of the quarantine ships, the government has made no actual payment of rent, DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said.
The negotiated price of PHP35 million was to cover the costs to operate the vessels, such as fuel, electricity, water, maintenance, supplies, and salaries of its crew and hotel staff, she said. (PNA)