By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Pia Cayetano said she tested negative for the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 that is why she was able to take over the deliberations on the proposed “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” which President Duterte eventually signed into law.
Cayetano, on Facebook Live, disclosed this information and at the same time, confirmed reports stating that one of her staff tested positive for COVID.’19
Three other senators—Senators Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, and most recently, Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara—confirmed they tested positive of the disease.
Cayetano, who chairs the Senate ways and means, said she and Angara worked closely on the proposed bill that sought to grant President Duterte additional and necessary powers to realign funds to fight the COVID-19 threat.
But she said Angara was already feeling unwell prior to the time senators were preparing for the Special Session held on March 23.
Angara is the head of the Senate finance panel, while Cayetano is vice chair.
Cayetano said she was present at the meeting in Malacañang on Saturday, March 21; celebrated her birthday on Sunday, March 22, and attended the Special Session at the Senate on Monday, March 23.
Angara, she recalled, was supposed to attend, but later on begged off because he was already feeling some symptoms associated with the coronavirus.
“Actually, si Sonny dapat mag-aattend noon. Kaya lang may sakit na siya, may nararamdaman na siya. Alam namin lahat yun, mga kasamahan niya. Ako talaga ang sumalo nun as counterpart niya dahil ako nga ang vice-chair niya (Sonny was supposed to attend. But he is already feeling unwell. We, his colleagues were aware of that. So I took over as his counterpart, because I am his vice-chair),” she said.
“So as vice-chair, ako yung sumama sa Senate President na pumunta ng Malacañang and sponsored the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’ noon Monday (As vice-chair, I accompanied the Senate President to Malacañang and sponsored the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’ on Monday). That’s the nature of my job. And it’s because I tested negative. That’s the reason why I was able to do my job.” she stressed.
Cayetano was among the senators who submitted to a COVID’19 test at the Senate President’s office last March 17. Other senators who were present were Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Imelda “Imee” Marcos, Grace Poe, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, and Francis Tolentino.
Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Richard Gordon took the test in a separate venue.
According to Zubiri, Sotto gave the directive for a COVID-19 testing among senators and staff after he tested positive of the virus even if he was asymptomatic.
Prior to Zubiri, Senators Nancy Binay and Sherwin Gatchalian also underwent COVID-19 testing after one of the resource person during a March 5 committee hearing was found positive of COVID-19. Later on, both tested negative.
Zubiri, Angara, Binay, and Gatchalian said they observed a strict 14-day self-quarantine.
But while she is happy that she tested negative during the COVID-19 test, she suddenly felt nervous when she heard that Rep. Eric Yap tested positive of the virus.
Cayetano said she went to Malacañang together with the Senate leader for the signing of the measure. Yap was also there together with other top state officials.
“I have to admit na tinatablan din ako ng nerbyos. Kung akala niyo malakas ang loob ko, nilalakasan ko na lang ang loob ko dahil (I am also stricken with nervousness. If you think I am brave, I am just trying to be courageous because) these are things we have to prepare for. These are the things we have to be strong about,” Cayetano pointed out.
“Siguro doon ko na lang dinadaan sa faith ko and ‘yung training ko bilang athlete na kailangan nating lahat makarating sa finish line (I’m just counting on my faith and my training as an athlete because we need to reach the finish line as soon as possible),” said the lawmaker, who is also a triathlete.