Efforts by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country received a boost from a PhP100 million donation by the Lopez Group of Companies.
In a letter of intent from the First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPHC) of the Lopez Group of Companies, the conglomerate company expressed its support for the commitment of the DOTr in addressing the pressing need to increase the limited capacity of the country’s health system. The company added that its donation will help a great number of Filipinos who are now in need of treatment for possible COVID-19 infection.
FPHC also mentioned that it was inspired by the approach taken by the Department in providing returning seafarers and other Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with assistance in their mandatory quarantine, and in some cases, with their medical treatment.
FPHC’s letter was addressed to DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago, and to Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Admiral Joel Garcia.
To recall, the DOTr has partnered with private shipping companies to convert passenger ships into temporary quarantine ships as authorities expect an influx of repatriates amid the coronavirus crisis. These quarantine ships will serve as temporary accommodations for returning seafarers and other OFWs as they complete their 14-day quarantine, as ordered by the Department of Health (DOH). These ships will accommodate both asymptomatic persons and persons who have not undergone COVID-19 testing.
In addition, the DOTr will soon set up quarantine terminals to attend to the medical needs of returning seafarers and other OFWs who manifest mild coronavirus disease symptoms.
“It is heartwarming to know that the medical needs of our OFWs, our returning modern-day heroes, remain to be top-of-mind. This is the least we can do for a sector who has played a significant role in enabling our economy over the years, especially at this time that uncertainty hangs over their hearts and minds,” the FPHC letter further stated.
Meanwhile, DOTr Secretary Tugade said the donation made by FPHC will be of great help to fund the needs of the Department, especially the Maritime sector, in the operation of the quarantine ships and the quarantine terminals.
“It is truly overwhelming that during these trying times, the support and selflessness of our private sector partners keep on coming to back us up. We are extremely grateful to the Lopez Group for this enormous help. Gagastahin natin ito ng naayon sa tama at nararapat. Maraming kababayan 'ho natin ang siguradong makikinabang dito," Sec. Tugade said.
For his part, PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago pledged to make sure that the donation will be spent appropriately, and that the establishment of another quarantine facility will be swiftly implemented.
“We will ensure that every centavo donated will be accounted for and spent according to its intended purpose. Now, we are already in the process of planning the conversion of the Eva Macapagal Terminal into a quarantine facility. As Sec. Tugade instructed, we will exert all our efforts for this to be established and be of use very soon,” GM Santiago said.