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DOTr pays Dennis Uy’s 2GO for using passenger vessels as floating quarantine facilities —Tugade

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is paying P35 million to Dennis Uy-led shipping and logistics firm 2GO Group Inc. for converting and using two of the company’s passenger vessels as floating quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients.

This was disclosed by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade during the Laging Handa public briefing on Wednesday.

Early this month, the DOTr announced it entered into a deal with 2GO to use two vessels into “quarantine ships” for returning overseas Filipino workers and seafarers required to undergo 14-day quarantine.

Davao-based businessman Uy sits as the chairman of the board of 2GO Group Inc.

“Ito ho nirerentahan ng gobyerno, ‘yung dalawa mga P35 million at mura naman ‘yan at nagamit if you will compute it in terms of bed space and use,” Tugade said.

In response to reporters’ queries, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran said that originally the rent for each vessel was more than P120 million, “ibinaba lang ng todo to help the government.”

The P35-million rent covers the use of 2GO’s two maritime vessels for two months.

“Doon sa malaking barko, ang beds ho doon mga 1,400, pero hindi po nagagamit 'yung beds 'pagkat mayroon ho tayong social distancing na ginagamit. Kabuuan na magagamit sa social distancing, mga 400,” Tugade said.

He said that 270 beds are being used so far.

As for the smaller vessel, it has a capacity of 200 beds and 135 are being utilized.

“Sa kabuoan, ‘don sa dalawang barko meron na tayo mahigit na 300 [beds being used]... nag-umpisa lang tayo nitong kalingguhan na ito,” Tugade said.

Section 4 of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, authorized the President to "direct the operation of any privately-owned passenger vessels to serve as temporary medical facilities."

The law further provided that “reasonable compensation for any additional damage or cost incurred by the owner or the possessor of the subject property solely on account of complying with the directive shall be given to the person entitled to the possession of such private properties or businesses after the situation has stabilized or at the soonest time practicable.”

Aside from the “Bayanihan” law, Section 24 of Republic Act No. 9295 or the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004 provides that: "In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during emergencies and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operations of any vessel engaged in domestic trade and commerce."—AOL/MDM, GMA News