2GO waives P35-M rental fee for quarantine ships

Maris Federez   •   April 23, 2020   •   864

MANILA, Philippines — Business tycoon Dennis Uy has clarified that the use of the shipping and logistics company 2Go’s vessels was offered to the government as a donation to be used as COVID-19 quarantine facilities for the repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

In a statement, Uy said he consulted with the company’s shareholders and they have decided to waive the rental.

“As Chairman of 2GO, I have conferred with other shareholders and have given explicit instructions to waive the PhP35M expected payment from the government,” Uy said.

He added that it was the Department of Transportation (DOTr) who offered to pay them P35-million as a lease on the two vessels but the company has no intention of accepting such payment.

DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade, on Wednesday (April 22), said that the contracted rental fee for the two-month use of the two vessels is P35-million.

“Ito nirerentahan ng gobyerno yung dalawa ng 35 million mura naman yan at nagamit if you will compute it on the basis of bed space and use,” Tugade said.

This roused the ire of netizens for the seemingly unjust charges that the company imposed on the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uy, in turn, apologized for the apparent misunderstanding and immediately clarified the matter further.

“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,” Uy said.

“The PhP35 million was an offer made by the DOTr, for which we had no plans of accepting,” he added.

Meanwile, DOTr Asec. Goddes Hope Libiran said the P35-million rental was initially agreed upon in a negotiation of the agency with the shipping company. Uy, however, was not part of the 2Go team that they entered the contract with.

“There was a negotiation. To be clear, Mr. Uy was never part of any of the discussion. No actual payment of rent has been made by the government to 2GO Group Inc, as it was Sec. Tugade’s intention to talk with the principal of 2GO to ask for concessions,” Libiran said.

Libiran was also quick to clarify that up to this date, no payment has been settled yet with the company.

“Until that happens, and up to now, no payment has been made,” she said.

The business tycoon’s statement, on the other hand, further said that the actual operating cost for the two ships is at P260-million which the company decided to waive as their goal was to be of help to the government by way of rendering their services as a donation.

“To set the record the straight actual cost to operate the 2 vessels as quarantine facilities is at PHP260M. But this was intended to be a donation. The PHP35M was an offer made by the DOTr for which we had no plans of accepting,” the 2Go chairman reiterated.

Uy added that he believes this is the right moment for the government and the private sector to work hand-in-hand and sacrifice for the welfare of the Filipinos. —(from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf

Nationwide road-clearing ops to resume on Nov. 16 – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday directed local government units (LGU) to resume their road-clearing operations after more than seven months of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the resumption of road clearing operations will officially start on November 16, depending on the quarantine classification of LGUs.

LGUs will have about two months or until January 15, 2021 to comply with the directive, he added.

“We hope that the LGUs, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, will show the same enthusiasm and positive results that they were able to achieve last year as we aim for safer and accessible roads free from illegal and potentially hazardous encroachments,” Año said in a statement.

“Despite the January 15 deadline, we wish to remind the LGUs that road-clearing operation is year-long endeavor, kaya kailangan natin ang kanilang commitment at pakikiisa,” he added.

Under DILG Memorandum Circular 2020-145, Año said that the resumption of road-clearing operations will vary, in different degrees, depending on the quarantine classification of a certain area.

Areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) levels should render full implementation of road clearing operations.

Those under general community quarantine (GCQ) will execute the partial implementation of the program while the road-clearing efforts in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and ECQ will remain suspended.

Early this week, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire National Capital Region and other areas of the country under GCQ for the whole month of November with no region in the country placed under the strictest community quarantine classification.

Under the DILG memorandum, road obstructions such as vehicular terminals except in areas designated by the LGUs; vending sites; house encroachments that obstruct the right-of-way; debris, waste materials, and other junked items, among others must be cleared off roadways.

Structures or obstructions erected for locally stranded individuals must also be removed upon return to their intended destination.

Parked ambulance and public emergency vehicles; checkpoints established by IATF, LGUs, PNP, and AFP; and temporary obstructions caused by the establishment of bike lanes, however, are exempted from removal, the DILG said.

Año said that results of road clearing efforts conducted by the LGU will be subjected to validation from January 18 to 22, 2021.

The DILG chief reiterated that LGUs that will fail to comply with the presidential directive will face administrative charges.

In his State of the Nation Address last year, Duterte ordered the DILG and LGUs to reclaim all public roads being used for private ends.

The road clearing operations were suspended in March in line with efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

PRC’s decision to stop swab testing affects returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III admits that the decision of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to stop conducting swab tests due to PhilHealth’s unsettled bills with them have greatly affected the returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

PhilHealth’s outstanding bill with PRC has already amounted to more than P930-million.

Bello said around 4,000 overseas Filipino workers have been stranded in the quarantine hotels they are currently billeted. And the longer they stay in these hotels, the greater the burden on the government that is shouldering the expenses in these hotels.

In the past, the DOLE had been able to send home up to 3,000 OFWs daily after undergoing swab tests and quarantine. To date, it can only send home around 300 OFWs every day.

“They are staying longer. While before they can stay for 3 to four days, now they already stay beyond one week and that’s our problem. There are expenses in taking care of our OFWs. So the sooner the issue of payment is resolved, the better for the OFWs and the better for the finances of our government,” Bello said.

The DOLE chief is hoping that the PhilHealth-PRC issue will be resolved as around 100,000 more OFWs are due to be repatriated before the year ends.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is asking the returning OFWs for their cooperation and patience for the delay of the issuance of result of their swab tests.

PCG Spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo said they have returned to manually encoding the information of these returning OFWs.

“So pagdating po sa airport, katulad ng dati, imbis na CIF po na pinifill-upan bago po dumating dito na sa website ng red cross, e ngayon po iniinterview namin isa-isa yung mga OFW at kinukunan ng background. At pagkatapos po nun, kinukunan ng swab test, maging yun pong dati na mga specimen po ay nilalagyan na rin ng manual na pangalan at kung kelan na swab di katulad ng dati na bar code,” said Balilo.

This, Balilo said, is why it is taking the process up to four to five days rather than finishing it in just one day following PRC’s decision.

Despite this, Balilo said there are now 12 hospitals that will accept and process the RT-PCR tests of OFWs.

“Magiging capacity po sa isang araw po kaya po ng mga 4,000 hanggang 4,500 po na iti-test,” he said.

Balilo added that the PCG will augment its personnel to lessen the delay due to the manual encoding.

The official also said they are finding ways to return to automation or electronic process encoding of individual information.

“On our part, nagpadala na po kami ng mga tauhan ng mga IT personnel para po magaya natin kung ano man ang sistema na pina-iiral ng Red Cross at sa loob po ng lalong madaling panahon ay maresolba natin itong delay,” Balilo said.

DTI to allow mall-wide sales to revive economy amid pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it will once again allow the conduct of mall-wide sales to draw more shoppers as part of government efforts to revive the country’s economy amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the move aims to encourage more customers to visit malls following the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) decision to ease quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and allow more people to leave their homes.

“Payagan ulit natin para restimulate ulit ang dami ng tao sa mall dahil nakita natin as we reopen hindi pa ganun kadami yung mga nagpupunta sa mall,” he said.

“Isang panghikayat ulit para sumigla ang ekonomiya ay payagan natin ang paggawa ng mall-wide sale o whether sa isang tindahan,” he added.

The DTI earlier said around 95% of sectors have been allowed to resume operations amid the pandemic, provided that they implement strict observance of health protocols in light of the COVID-19 threat.

Mall operators, for their part, assured they will continue to follow health protocols for commercial establishments to ensure the safety of their customers. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)



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