PH Navy preps ‘BRP Ang Pangulo’ as quarantine site

Published April 4, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Martin Sadongdong

On the orders of President Duterte, the Philippine Navy (PN) has started preparations to convert “BRP Ang Pangulo” from a presidential yacht to a floating quarantine center for persons suspected to have acquired the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the top Navy official revealed on Saturday, April 4.

Vice Admiral Giovanni Bacordo, Navy Flag Officer in Command, told the Manila Bulletin that BRP Ang Pangulo can accommodate 26 to 28 persons under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUMs) if successfully converted to a quarantine center.

Philippine Navy (MANILA BULLETIN)
Philippine Navy (MANILA BULLETIN)

“The Philippine Navy is a major partner of the government in this COVID-19 crisis so whatever way that the Navy can contribute to the containment of this coronavirus, we will do it,” Bacordo said over a phone interview.

On Friday night, Duterte said he directed the Navy to turn the presidential yacht into a floating quarantine center to cater to PUIs and PUMs since he’s not using it anyway. “Ang Philippine Navy inalert ko, sabi ko ‘yung mga barko niyo na magaganda… ‘yung Pangulo, ‘yung barko ng Presidente ng Pilipinas, maganda ‘yan. Ang loob niyan parang hotel (I alerted the Philippine Navy, I told them [to use] their ships that are beautiful… the ‘Pangulo,’ intended for the President of the Philippines, it’s beautiful. The interior is like a hotel),” he said in an address to the public.

“Pero hindi ko sinakyan ‘yan, kailanman… ‘yung yate ng presidente. Hindi ako bagay diyan, pang-bangka lang ako (But I never used it, ever… that presidential yacht. It’s not for me, I’m only meant for small boats),” he added. “Sabi ko sa Navy, gawing ospital kaagad pati magtulong sila ng iba (I told the Navy to convert it to a hospital and to help other people),” he noted.

BRP Ang Pangulo was obtained during the administration of former president Carlos P. Garcia, according to Malacanang records. It was built at the Ishikawajima dry docks in Tokyo, Japan, and was brought to the Philippines on February 28, 1959.

It has an over-all length of 77.33 meters, a beam of 13 meters, a maximum draft of 6.40 meters, and gross weight of 2,200 tons. It can accommodate 44 guests and 81 crew members.

Currently, BRP Ang Pangulo is stationed in Davao City, where the hometown of President Duterte is. Bacordo also said that they have identified a possible docking area for “BRP Ang Pangulo” if it gets successfully converted to a floating quarantine center.

The Navy Chief noted that the organic crew of the presidential yacht will remain aboard even if it is used as a quarantine center. “It has two entrances. We have identified the entrance for organic personnel, and the other entrance will be used for the PUIs, PUMs and healthcare workers. Ang (The) compartments like the VIP lounge and rooms where the PUIs and PUMs can stay are not the normal passageway, hiwalay talaga siya (it’s separated),” Bacordo said.

Meanwhile, Bacordo said that the Navy has already coordinated with the Department of Health (DOH) and other government agencies to bring in medical equipment and build the essential facilities inside the presidential yacht.

“If we are to use that for PUIs and PUMs, we will come up with requirements like beddings, ‘yung mga (the) water dispensers, in such a way that if we have all the equipment in sight to the compartment, the patients will no longer have to go in and go out for other necessities kung available na siya ‘di ba (if it is already available, right)?” Bacordo said.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that it is “possible but not advisable” to convert military ships to floating quarantine sites.