By Martin Sadongdong
General Felimon Santos Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP), has tested positive for the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it was confirmed on Friday, March 27.
No less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the announcement as he said it was Santos who told him about his condition.
“This morning [Friday] I was informed by CSAFP Gen. Santos that he tested positive of the COVID-19. He got the result yesterday [March 26],” Lorenzana told reporters.
It was not clear how Santos contracted the disease but the news of the result of his test came days after a one-star military general earlier tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement, the AFP Public Affairs Office (PAO) said Santos was tested on March 23, the day before he revealed to media that a star-ranked official and his wife were confirmed to have been infected by COVID-19, the first confirmed cases in the military rank.
Santos said he had close contact with the official during one military conference, and at the donning of rank for newly promoted officers where the infected official was among those who ranked up.
Santos will be on “strict” home quarantine from March 27 to April 10.
“He is well and in good health. He will be in his military quarters where he will continue the discharge of his duties and responsibilities,” the AFP-PAO said about the condition of Santos.
Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr., AFP vice chief of staff, will assist Santos in overseeing the daily operational activities of the military. Meanwhile, deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Erickson Gloria has been designated to attend to the administrative matters.
Likewise, Lorenzana said that he will be undergoing home quarantine for 14 days effective Friday, March 27, after having close contact with Santos on three separate occassions.
Lorenzana bared that he was with Santos last March 21 during the turnover of medical supplies and equipment donated by an anonymous Filipino-Chinese businessman at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
Aside from Lorenzana and Santos, also present during the turnover ceremony were Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Interior and the Local Goverment Secretary Eduardo Año, and Air Force chief Lieutenant General Allen Paredes.
Lorenzana was again accompanied by Santos in two events on March 22 — one was at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City and the other was at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang.
“I have no symptoms but protocol says I have to self-quarantine for 14 days,” Lorenzana, who is now considered a person under monitoring (PUM), noted.
With Santos positive for COVID-19 and Lorenzana in home quarantine, the operations of the national government’s National Action Plan (NAP) to eradicate the threat of the deadly disease in the country was put into question.
The military, with Santos at the helm, has been on the frontline of the battle to contain the disease, enforcing the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon with the cops to prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana was recently designated as the head of the National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19, which was formed to implement the policies being formulated by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).