A tale of two donors: Hotel Sogo and 2GO’s COVID-19 response

April 23, 2020 - 10:52 PM
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2GO Quarantine Ships
Newly arrived overseas Filipino workers set to spend quarantine period aboard ships lent by logistics company 2GO in this screenshot of a video posted by the Philippine Coast Guard on April 15, 2020.

Hotel Sogo announced on social media Wednesday that it donated P60 million worth of room accommodations for health workers and other frontliners for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.

More than 800 rooms located in the budget hotel’s branches in Manila, Caloocan, Naga, Bacoor, Pasay, Alabang and Quezon City will be used by chosen health workers from 25 hospitals.  

We support our health workers and frontliners who bravely sacrifice their lives and face the difficulties during this uncertain time,” its statement read.  

Hotel Sogo Donates P 60M worth of 800 Room accommodations from its 10 branches to frontline health workers from 25…

Posted by Hotel Sogo on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

 

On the same day, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade announced that the national government sought to pay logistics company 2Go Group Inc. at least P35 million to rent its two passenger vessels to be used as floating quarantine facilities.

Tugade made the announcement at the virtual “Laging Handa” briefing.  

Nirerentahan po ito ng gobyerno, ‘yung dalawa mga P35 million ho. Mura naman ‘yan at nagamit if you will compute on the basis of bed-space and use,” Tugade said 

The rent of privately owned properties to temporarily house health workers or COVID-19 patients during the pandemic is among the additional powers granted to President Rodrigo Duterte provided by the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act.  

While the two forms of assistance from the two companies are distinct, Filipinos still compared Hotel Sogo’s donation with 2GO Group’s significantly discounted lease.  

 

Other Filipinos questioned the government’s need to pay a hefty amount to private companies when there are a lot of idle government-owned facilities that can be used for free. 

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Local government units have already converted several massive establishments into isolation sites or quarantine facilities to help ease the burden of hospitals in accommodating the rising number of COVID-19 patients. 

P35-million fee now waived

Following criticisms over Tugade’s announcement, Dennis Uy, the chairman of the 2GO Group chairman, issued a statement saying that he had instructed to waive the P35-million rate for the government’s use of the ships, therefore, making it free of charge.

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

The operating costs of the ships are worth P260 million, Uy said, adding that it was intended to be a donation.

He did not mention whether it would still cost his company P260 million even if the ships remained berthed at a time when the logistics industry is adversely affected by the shifts in the supply chain as businesses remain shut and the government tries to arrest the pandemic.

While Uy maintained he did not intend to accept the P35-million “offer” from government, GMA News quoted Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Libiran who said Uy’s company first gave a P120-million quote for the two vessels for two months.

Tugade refused to pay quoted P120 million, then it was lowered to P35 million to cover “fuel, electricity, water, maintenance, supplies, and actual salaries of manpower of the crew and hotel staff,” Libiran said.

The Department of Transportation, meanwhile, issued a statement welcoming Uy’s move to no longer charge P35 million.

“This magnanimity of Mr. Dennis Uy and 2Go all the more reinforces the BAYANIHAN spirit that prevails in this monumental effort of both government and the private sector to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” the agency said