2GO waives P35-M rental fee for quarantine ships

Maris Federez   •   April 23, 2020   •   985

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

400K OFWs sent home during pandemic — DOLE

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Over 400,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been sent home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

As of January 16, the Labor Department records a total of 410,211 repatriates who have undergone quarantine and were cleared of COVID-19.

“After their ordeal in their country of origin, our dear OFWs were all provided accommodation, food, transportation, and cash assistance by the government. Now, they are safely home with their families,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The latest figures from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration showed that 8,273 OFWs were transported to their respective provinces last week.

An estimate of 60,000 to 80,000 more OFWs are expected to be repatriated this year, according to reports from the various Philippine Overseas Labor Offices of DOLE. AAC

OFWs exempted from travel ban on countries with new COVID-19 strain cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in countries with a travel ban from the government are exempted and will be allowed to enter the Philippines, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a press conference on Tuesday (December 29), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said President Rodrigo Duterte wants OFWs to be able to return to their families.

Bello said returning OFWs would need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Some 60,000 to 100,000 OFWs are expected to return in the next two weeks, he added.

Duterte, on Monday (December 28), approved the imposition of travel ban on countries with confirmed reports of the new strain of COVID-19. The travel ban will take effect on December 30 at 12:01 a.m. until January 15. AAC

DOLE wants OFWs, minimum wage earners included among priorities for COVID-19 vaccine

Marje Pelayo   •   December 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) wants overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and minimum wage workers to be among the first to receive the vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once it becomes available.

In an interview with UNTV, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said minimum wage earners comprise about 60% to 70% of the country’s overall workforce thus, they also should be prioritized in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

Kailangan tiyakin natin ang kaligtasan ng ating mga minimum wage workers para matiyak natin din yung ating negosyo at ang ating economic recovery (We need to ensure the safety of our minimum wage workers so we can guarantee the success of our businesses and economic recovery),” Bello said.

He also reiterated that overseas Filipino workers play an important role in the country’s economy in the form of remittances, hence they should be listed at least among the top six in the order of priority.

Doon naman sa mga Overseas Filipino Workers, tinagurian silang bagong bayani, modern day heroes so they should be treated as modern days heroes (Overseas Filipino workers are considered modern-day heroes so they should be treated as that),” the Secretary said.

ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay supports the idea saying workers are exposed to threats of COVID-19 and the possibility of transmission is high.

He also suggested the possibility of investors leaving the country and transferring to other countries that are already administering the vaccine.

May posibilidad na magsilipat ang mga investors doon sa mga bansang nabakunahan na dahil regular na ang mobility nila, ang pagbyahe ng mga manggagawa (There is a possibility that investors would go to countries where vaccines are available because mobility and travel of workers there are back to normal),” Tanjusay argued.

DOLE said the expenses for the vaccination may be shouldered by either the government or the employers.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said big companies could probably afford to shoulder the expenses.

The only concern, he said, are the small and medium companies that comprise about 90% of businesses in the country.

Kahit anong gawin natin hindi kayang magpabakuna noon. Iyon nga lang 13th month pay alam mo naman nagkahirapan tayo. Iyon pa kaya sa bakuna na iyan (Whatever we do they wouldn’t be able to afford the vaccine. They can hardly provide for their workers’ 13th month pay, how much more for the vaccine),” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.

The employers’ group said, it should be the government that will shoulder the expenses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

ECOP said it is still up to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as to who they want to prioritize for the vaccination and not all workers are obliged to take it. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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