AFP lauds military frontliners in COVID-19 facilities

By Martin Sadongdong

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday paid tribute to military personnel deployed in the four coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mega quarantine and testing facilities in Metro Manila.

Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Felimon Santos (ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES / MANILA BULLETIN) Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Felimon Santos (ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES / MANILA BULLETIN)

General Felimon Santos Jr., AFP chief of staff, said hundreds of composite military doctors, nurses, support, medical aid, and security personnel were deployed at facilities converted into isolation and testing centers, including the World Trade Center (WTC), Ninoy Aquino Stadium (NAS), Rizal Memorial Coliseum (RMC), and Enderun Mega Swabbing Center (EMSC).

"The AFP takes pride in our military doctors, nurses, medical aid, support and security personnel who continue to operate and stand their ground in the battle against the COVID19 pandemic. They remain dedicated to their duties, risking their own wellbeing to ensure the safety of Filipinos affected by the dreaded disease," Santos said.

President Duterte tasked the AFP to provide manpower for clinical and operational support to mega temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, and swabbing centers across the country.

In response to the President's order, Santos said the AFP fielded Task Group WTC CARE composed of 87 military medical personnel to man the 502-bed facility at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. In addition, six officers and seven enlisted personnel (EP) were tasked to man the Command and Administration Section in the said facility.

The Task Group WTC CARE, which leads the operation, conducted admission, transfer, and discharge of 385 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives in coordination with the Overseas Workers Welfare Association and external linkages with other agencies, Santos said.

Meanwhile, 65 medical personnel from the AFP Health Service Command has been managing the 112-bed facility at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila. The team was augmented by six medical service officers and seven enlisted personnel who completed the Command Group.

Santos said the military medical team at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium administered the admission of 132 COVID-19 positive patients. The quarantine facility has since treated 108 patients.

Further, 41 emergency medical technicians from the AFP manage the 97-bed Rizal Memorial Coliseum quarantine facility in Manila. The facility is catering to thirteen positive patients at present.

Lastly, a total of 50 personnel from the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine Navy have been deployed at the Enderun Mega Swabbing Center in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

The facility, opened on May 24, arranges, collects, and transports oral and nasopharyngeal swab specimens for COVID-19 mass testing.

It has 54 swabbing booths that can accommodate a minimum of 900 individuals a day. So far, it has successfully administered the initial swabbing of 101 patients coming from Taguig City.

The military personnel were complemented by manpower from the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), Department of Health (DOH), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and National Security Council (NSC).

"The COVID-19 pandemic is an enemy that requires a different form of sacrifice, commitment, and dedication. While our enemy is unseen and cannot be eliminated by anything in our armory, our greatest asset has and will always be our people," Santos said.

"Our duty to the nation transcends all threats and we in the Armed Forces of the Philippines are capable of fulfilling our mandate to protect the people from all kinds of threats," he added.

As of Monday, the DOH has recorded a total of 14,319 (284 new) cases with 3,323 (74 new) recoveries and 873 (5 new) deaths.