Bulacan congressman Henry Villarica gets coronavirus

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Bulacan 4th District Representative Henry Villarica was infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

House Secretary General Luis Montales announced late Thursday evening, March 26, that Villarica tested positive for COVID-19.

"Bulacan Representative Henry Villarica tested positive [for] COVID-19 today. He last reported for work on March 4," Montales said in a statement.

Villarica had attended a March 8 event hosted by Baliuag, Bulacan Mayor Ferdie Estrella, who himself tested positive for the fast-spreading disease on March 17.  

Villarica has been confined at a hospital since March 18 after developing pneumonia. The House secretary general earlier said the lawmaker has been hospitalized since March 12, then told reporters on Friday, March 27, that the correct date is March 18.

Montales said the lawmaker's current condition is "stable." None of Villarica's staff have shown symptoms of COVID-19 so far.

The Bulacan congressman is the president of Villarica Pawnshop Incorporated. He is married to Meycauayan City Mayor Linabelle Ruth Villarica, whom he succeeded in the 18th Congress after the 2019 elections.

Villarica is now the 5th member of the 18th Congress to test positive for COVID-19, along with House committee on appropriations chairperson Eric Yap, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senator Sonny Angara, and Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who is now in the hot seat for exposing Makati Medical Center health workers and S&R grocery chain workers to COVID-19.  

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, citing clerical error, said two days later that Yap “remains negative.” The fact remains, however, that he broke quarantine protocols while he was a person under investigation, and exposed several high-level government officials in the process.

The Philippines reported 71 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of patients who acquired the disease to 707. Of this number, 45 patients have died while only 28 have recovered, so far. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.