By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is guarding the safety and security not only of President Duterte but also of other people in Malacañang when it made a health declaration form a requirement for entry into its premises, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar said Friday.
Amid intensified efforts to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, Andanar explained the health form is a precautionary measure that covers Cabinet Secretaries, government officials, employees, and visitors who will interact with the President.
“With the public health emergency declaration due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and the additional confirmed case of nCoV in the country, the health declaration form is an additional precautionary measure to ensure the safety and security, not just of President Rodrigo Duterte, but everyone who is working at or visiting Malacañang,” Andanar said.
“Therefore, security clearances that have been augmented through a health declaration form by the Events Management Cluster of the Office of the President (OP-EMC) for those who have engagements with the President, are warranted,” he added.
Government personnel and visitors entering the Palace are now required to provide information about their travel history and health status. The one-page health declaration forms were distributed last Thursday ahead of the oath-taking ceremony attended by President Duterte in Malacañang.
In the health declaration form, persons are required to give their full name, nationality, sex, age, contact number, e-mail address, and address in the Philippines.
They must also state the foreign countries or Philippine cities they visited in the past 14 days.
The declaration form included questions asking if the person was sick in the past 30 days and if they experienced fever, colds, cough, sore throat, or breathing difficulties in the past 14 days. It also asked if the person had close contact with farm animals or was exposed to wild animals in the past two weeks.
The form stated that the information must be true, correct, and complete, or else the person will risk “serious consequences” for failing to answer any question or any falsified response.
Last Monday, the Presidential Security Group stepped up health precautions in Malacañang, conducting temperature checks of employees and visitors entering the compound. Alcohol and hand sanitizers have also been placed at the PSG sentry gates.
PSG personnel have also been directed to wear face masks to protect themselves against the new coronavirus.
To date, the country has reported three cases of the new coronavirus, including one patient death. More than a hundred patients are reportedly under investigation by the health department for suspected respiratory illness.