Duterte’s bodyguards eye suing COVID-19 positive congressman for breach of protocol

The Presidential Security Group (PSG), President Rodrigo Duterte’s security detail, said yesterday that it is ready to file charges against ACT-CIS Partylist Representative Eric Yap for breaching COVID-19 protocols in Malacañang Palace, where Duterte works.

Yap, who disclosed that he tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, had attended a meeting at the Palace, days after showing symptoms and while awaiting the results of his test. The health department has said that a person under investigation, such as Yap, should go into self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of the disease.

Read: Lawmaker Eric Yap went to Malacañang, Congress meetings before testing positive for COVID-19

PSG said in its statement last night that it implements security measures in the Palace requiring visitors to fill up a declaration form to detail their travel history, state symptoms, and disclose if they have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case.

“For whatever reason, he [Yap] failed to disclose all needed information [when he visited the Palace],” the PSG said. “PSG troopers on duty assessed him according to the ans wers on the said form he submitted, the basis of which he was allowed entry.”

The PSG added that stricter measures will now be placed in light of the breach.

“This incident shall serve as a reference for PSG’s implementation of enhanced screening measures for all those who enter Malacañang Complex.”

PSG Commander Col. Jesus Durante III told reporters further that they will file a case against Yap “if really needed.”

Since February, the PSG has been requiring all Palace visitors to disclose their health and travel history as a measure to stop the spread of the virus inside the Palace. The form states that failure to answer any question or any false responses may warrant “serious consequences,” citing falsification of documents as a criminal act on the Revised Penal Code, GMA News reports.

Earlier, Yap said “I attended the meeting and was careful the whole time knowing I could potentially be a carrier of the virus,” before adding, “I apologize and seek understanding from people I mingled with. I was paranoid because I had a slight cough but I felt it was normal for me… I wasn’t showing signs of respiratory illness. I promise. I wouldn’t lie [about that],” he said in English and Filipino.

Durante said they are already conducting an investigation on the incident and that some 20 PSG and Office of the President personnel are now under self-quarantine due to their exposure to the infected congressman.

“We are fighting COVID-19. This is actually for the safety [of everyone], not only the president,” Durante added.

Read: No touching! Bodyguards tell Filipinos not to touch Duterte amid COVID-19 outbreak

Earlier this month, the PSG prohibited the public from touching the president. At the same time, PSG personnel, politicians, and even dignitaries who are expected to come near the president during meetings and events “will be thoroughly screened and tested” for any signs of COVID-19 to protect the 74-year-old chief executive who is widely known for having several pre-existing illnesses.

As of this morning, at least 707 people have confirmed positive of the novel coronavirus in the country, 45 of whom have died, and 28 of whom have since recovered.

This article, Duterte’s bodyguards eye suing COVID-19 positive congressman for breach of protocol, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!