President Duterte remained safe and healthy even after dozens of security personnel became infected with the coronavirus disease, according to Presidential Security Group (PSG) commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III.
The PSG personnel who contracted COVID-19 had no close contact with the President while the rest of the security group will continue to keep Duterte “safe and secured,” Durante assured the nation.
He admitted that the PSG recently had 126 active cases but the number has decreased to 45. Several PSG members have already been “cleared” after undergoing quarantine, he added.
“Our PSG personnel who got infected are not directly or closely detailed with the President and are all asymptomatic without experiencing any adverse symptom. Hence, rest assured that the President is safe and in good health,” Durante said in a statement Wednesday.
The medical staff of the PSG would ensure those who tested positive for the coronavirus would complete their quarantine protocols and would be properly processed, Durante said.
“Likewise, all health and safety protocols are strictly enforced and implemented to all PSG personnel and their dependents,” he added.
Durante conceded that the exposure to the coronavirus became “inevitable” given the nature of the job of the PSG.
“As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in our country, the Presidential Security Group is not spared from the virus as our personnel continue to perform our mandate during presidential engagements and routine security operations,” he said.
“We protect our VIPs; guard the PSG compound, the residence and the whole Malacañang Complex 24/7, where civilian residents are also situated, thus, exposure to the virus is inevitable,” he said.
In an interview over state television, Durante said most of the infected PSG personnel were manning the Palace gates, adding they were “exposed daily to the local populace.”
Given the “unprecedented rise” in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, Durante said the PSG has already recommended the cancelation of some of the President’s activities, including his scheduled public address Wednesday, April 7.
“We will not take the risk that’s why we recommended the President cancel some of his meetings and that includes ‘yung activity sana mamaya until such time the COVID-19 cases subside in NCR,” he said, referring public address.
“We will minimize all possible exposure that may jeopardize the President’s safety,” he added.
On Duterte’s whereabouts, Durante said the President was working in Malacañang.
He said the President was also “regularly tested as necessary.” “Even him, he adheres to health protocols even at the start of the pandemic,” he said.
The Palace earlier announced that the President’s televised address set for Wednesday has been moved to next week. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the decision was reached “in light of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.”
He said the President’s safety remained their utmost concern.