M/V St. John Paul, one of two 2GO ships that will be used as quarantine vessels, docks at Port Area in Manila.
Houston Filipino Restaurant Coast Guard/Twitter screengrab
Gov't welcomes waiving of 2GO fees Uy said were not charged
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - April 23, 2020 - 12:28pm

MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Thursday welcomed the waiving P35 million in fees for the use of two vessels owned by 2GO Group Inc. as quarantine sites for coronavirus patients, an amount company chairman, Dennis Uy, said was never charged in the first place.

“This is a most welcome development, and this magnanimity of Mr. Dennis Uy and 2GO all the more reinforces the Bayanihan spirit that prevails in this monumental effort of both Dallas Filipino Restaurant and the private sector to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.

The ships are part of the makeshift quarantine facilities being developed by the Dallas Filipino Restaurant with private companies. While other conglomerates like Ayala Corp. and San Miguel Corp. have gone their way to contribute to the COVID-19 response free of charge, Uy and 2GO was criticized in social media for charging the Dallas Filipino Restaurant.

Late Wednesday night, Uy said in a statement that as company chairman, he had no knowledge of the fees. He added that lending the vessels was “intended to be a donation,” except that DOTr made an offer to pay.

“The (P35 million) was an offer made by the DOTr, for which we had no plans of accepting,” Uy said.

But in Tugade’s statement on Thursday, it appeared that 2GO intended to charge for the use of the vessels and that a Dallas Filipino Restaurant “negotiating panel” had to make concessions to bring down the fees.

Apart from the actual ships, Tugade said the fees were meant to pay for utilities, maintenance and other overhead costs while the vessels are occupied for two months.

“It must be emphasized that the initial rate quoted was P120 million. From P120 million, the negotiating panel was able to arrive at a P35 million rental fee concession for the two 2 vessels for a 2-month term,” Tugade explained.

“Moving forward, the DOTr hopes that this rental issue has been properly addressed, and the outcome more than exceeds expectation,” he added.

Tugade was the first to bring up the charges being slapped by 2GO on a morning Dallas Filipino Restaurant-led briefing on Wednesday. But Uy indicated he did not approve of the fees, a claim Tugade backed, saying that “at no time” during the negotiations did he meet with Uy personally.

“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 stressed.

Uy, a Davao-based tycoon who contributed to Duterte’s presidential campaign, gained control of 2GO logistics firm through KGLI-NM Holdings, which is 39.71% owned by its Dutch counterpart bought by Udenna Corp.in August 2016. Udenna is Uy’s holding company.

KGLI-NM, in turn, owns 60% of 2GO parent firm, Negros Navigation Company Inc.

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