MARCH 26, 2020 – President Rodrigo Duterte’s security team began an investigation into a potential security breach after a lawmaker found positive for coronavirus attended a meeting at the official residence of the president, the commander of the military unit said on Thursday.
Colonel Jesus Durante, in an interview, said the Presidential Security Group is considering to file charges against a party-list representative and close ally of Duterte’s son at the lower house of Congress for not disclosing his conditions when questioned for health screening.
“He has coughs, he has been experiencing some symptoms, hindi niya lahat dineclare ito.” Durante said, referring to ACT-CIS partylist Eric Yap, head of the lower house panel on appropriations.
“Ang problema, itong si Congressman Yap, he did fill out itong form but he did not declare na may contact siya with some people who were found positive.”
Yap has made a statement admitting he tested positive after he had himself tested for corona virus on March 15.
But he continued to work and attended a meeting of Cabinet members and lawmakers on March 21. On Monday, he also attended a special session at the House of Representatives that deliberated and passed a law granting special powers to the president.
Yap has apologized and appealed to every one to stay at home.
His case was similar to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, who went to a hospital with his pregnant wife and shop at a supermarket even he had himself tested for corona virus last week.
Pimentel got bashed in social media for his irresponsible actions. He has apologized and insisted he did not know he was infected before his trip to the Makati Medical Center.
Durante said a task force has been created to investigate Yap’s security breach
“If it’s really necessary to file a case against him then we will,” Durante said even if Yap did not meet personally with the president during his visit to Malacanang.
Part of the security protocol at the palace was to ask all visitors to sign a declaration form to screen people who may be a potential carrier of the virus that has killed 38 people and sickened 636 in the country as of Wednesday. Only 26 have recovered and about 9,000 people are still being closely monitored.
Durante said there could be up to 20 people inside the Malacanang who are classified as patients under investigation, including the Cabinet officials, lawmakers, and staff after close contact with Yap and six soldiers were placed under quarantine.
“Umattend siya sa meeting involving itong mga other Cabinet secretaries natin and it really endangered everyone dito sa loob Palasyo,” he said, adding the PSG is now revising the declaration forms to ensure the safety of the Palace and the president.
“Ang bottom line naman dito is we are fighting COVID-19,” he said. “So, this is actually for the safety and for good health, for every one of us, not only the President, but para po sa ating lahat ito.” (Karen Macalalad/MM)
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