Duterte orders Navy to convert presidential yacht into coronavirus hospital

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday, April 3, that he has ordered the Philippine Navy to convert the presidential yacht, BRP Ang Pangulo, into a hospital during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Ang Philippine Navy inalert ko, sabi ko ‘yung mga barko ninyo na magaganda, ‘yung Ang Pangulo…. Sabi ko sa Navy, gawaing ospital agad,” Duterte said, adding that the interior of the yacht looked just like a hotel. 

(I alerted the Philippine Navy, I told them, your nice ships, the [BRP] Ang Pangulo…. I told the Navy to make it a hospital right away.) 

Duterte also asked the Navy to assist in running the ship since there were not enough doctors and medical workers to be deployed to manage the ship once converted into a hospital.

Other orders: Duterte also called on trainees of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program to assist the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in delivering food and financial assistance to low-income households. 

"I'm calling upon mga ROTC, get in touch with the DSWD...Just give your accreditation, maybe an ID at makatulong kayo (and you can help),” Duterte said. 

Duterte issued the call out since the DSWD said it did not have enough manpower and resources to do it alone. 

Duterte earlier said the DSWD alone would handle the distribution of aid as he did not want local officials to mix politics with assistance. 

The DSWD is in charge of delivering some P200 billion worth of assistance to 18 million low-income households affected by the outbreak and Luzon lockdown which will last until April 12, if not extended. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.