Duterte keen to greet Filipinos arriving from China

Published February 5, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos 

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said there will probably be a long discussion before President Duterte is allowed to go to Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija to greet Filipinos arriving from China on Saturday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers a speech during the celebration of the 120-year presence of the Baptist Churches in the Philippines at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on January 16, 2020. (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview in Malacañang Wednesday, Nograles said knowing the President, he would probably insist on going to the mega drug rehabilitation facility that will serve as the quarantine site for the Filipinos repatriated from China, despite the risk to his health.

“He (President Duterte) wants to be there but there’s still a discussion. I’m sure that’s going to be a debate between the President, the PSG (Presidential Security Group), and the PMS (Presidential Management Staff),” he said.

On Monday, President Duterte said he was not keen on limiting his public engagements despite the threat of the 2019-novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) in the country.

READ MORE: Duterte won’t let nCoV stop him going out in public

“When my time comes, it will come. When your time comes you will know,” he told reporters Monday evening.

“When my time comes, it will come. When the time comes you will know because I will go out of Malacañang in a funeral car,” he jested.

On Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a statement said the repatriated Filipinos will arrive at the Clark Airport on Saturday and will be transported to the drug rehabilitation facility inside Fort Magsaysay, where they will undergo a two-week quarantine.

Panelo added that Duterte instructed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to go to Fort Magsaysay to properly assist the people affected.

Safest place

Meanwhile, Nograles assured residents living around the mega drug rehabilitation facility that the virus will not spread in the province.

“‘Wag silang matakot at maabala, kasi doon nga ‘yung pinaka-safe, kasi ‘yung highest quarantine level ang i-impose doon (They should not be afraid and alarmed, because that is going to be the safest place, because the highest quarantine level will be imposed there). So all quarantine measures will be at its [highest] level there,” he said.

“All our medical health workers going in and out of that facility will undergo such extensive quarantine medical protocol so that’s probably going to be the safest place in terms of quarantine protocols and procedures.”

President Duterte threatened to expropriate the drug rehabilitation facility in Fort Magsaysay after Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali said he was against the idea of using the facility to quarantine the Filipinos coming home from China.

“That building is inside a national government reservation. Maluwang ‘yan. So marami akong ilagay diyan (It’s huge so I can place a lot of people there),” he said Monday.

“I will expropriate. Kunin ko ‘yung building mo (I will take your building), whether you like it or not. In times of emergency, I can always… It is always confiscatory in nature. You confiscate. Then you make it a hospital.”

READ MORE: DOH confirms third case of nCov in the PH