Logistics firm 2Go Group, Inc. will not accept the P35-million payment from the Department of Transportation for the government's use of its ships as floating quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients.
This was announced on Wednesday night by 2Go chairman Dennis Uy after Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a briefing that the government rented the ships to the tune of P35 million.
Public policy think tank Infrawatch PH questioned the wisdom of renting passenger vessels as quarantine facilities, saying it should prioritize looking for other land-based quarantines if the existing facilities were about to be filled to its capacity.
"To set the record straight, actual cost to operate the two vessels as quarantine facilities is at PhP260M. But this was intended to be a donation. The P35 million was an offer made by the DOTr, for which we had no plans of accepting," Uy said in a statement.
"As chairman of 2GO, I have conferred with other shareholders and have given explicit instructions to waive the P35 million expected payment from the government; and if necessary make good the said amount out of my own funds to cover for the expected expenses to operate the said ships," he added.
Uy is one of the top contributors to the election campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. He is said to have given P30 million to the campaign.
His Udenna Corp. is one of the majority owners of Dito Telecoms, the third player in the country's telecommunications industry.
Uy said he agreed with the comments on social media as regards the P35-million rental.
"In fact, I do believe that now, more than ever, in the time of COVID-19, 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," Uy said.
"Again, I apologize if this news has unduly offended some of our fellow Filipinos, so let me be clear, 2GO is providing two vessels to serve as quarantine facilities free of charge to the Filipino people. Even if the government offers to pay the P35 million we in 2GO, in good conscience, have no intentions of accepting their offer," he added. -NB, GMA News