COVID-19

3rd House employee dies of COVID-19

Mara Cepeda
The 52-year-old male staff member from the House Bills and Index Service last visited their office on June 29. He tested positive for the disease on July 20 and died 3 days later.

The House of Representatives on Thursday, July 23, confirmed its third coronavirus death after a 52-year-old employee died just 3 days after testing positive for COVID-19.

House Secretary-General Luis Montales confirmed this to Rappler on Thursday, the same day the patient – a male staff member from the House Bills and Index Service – died.

“It was reported to us last July 21 that an employee assigned at Bills & Index Service tested positive for COVID-19.  We are deeply saddened to know that he passed away early this morning,” Montales said. 

The employee had hypertension and was the latest among the 18 confirmed cases in the House

The Bills and Index Staff member had been working from home since June 18, but he went to their office at the Batasang Pambansa on June 29 to submit some documents. 

He was hospitalized on July 17 after he started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. He tested positive for the disease on July 20, then died 3 days later. 

“May he rest in peace. Our prayers for his loved ones during this difficult time,” Montales said.

The patient is the 3rd House employee to die of COVID-19, after a 41-year-old male printing service staff member who died on March 15; and a 65-year-old congressional staff who died on March 21. 

The latest death was reported just 4 days before President Rodrigo Duterte is to personally deliver his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasan on Monday, July 27. 

The House secretariat said in a press briefing on Wednesday, July 22, that strict health and physical distancing protocols will be imposed for the SONA.

This includes requiring all selected officials, lawmakers, and guests who will be physically present at Batasan to take a COVID-19 swab test on Sunday, July 26, and a rapid test on Monday, before being allowed to enter the plenary hall.

It was during the same press conference on Wednesday that Montales said that they do not see the need yet to subject all House employees to rapid tests for COVID-19. 

The Secretary-General said they so far deemed the House’s strict health and safety protocols to be “sufficient.” Montales also said the 18 employees who tested positive for COVID-19 were infected outside Batasan.

“Even if we have 18 cases of COVID-19, if you look at the data, it shows that the transmission comes from their communities, not from the House of Representatives. It’s not the case of one employee transmitting it to another employee and House member,” Montales said in a mix of English and Filipino. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.