MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Felimon Santos Jr has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana shared this to reporters on Friday, March 27, and afterwards confirmed by the AFP.
Santos was tested on Tuesday, March 23, the same day he told reporters he was on home quarantine after coming into contact with another senior military officer who tested positive for the virus.
The military chief’s own test result came out earlier Friday, showing he was positive for COVID-19.
Santos will be on strict home quarantine at his residence in the AFP General Headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, for 14 days – from Friday until April 10.
“He is well and in good health condition. He will be in his military quarters where he will continue the discharge of his duties and responsibilities,” said the AFP Public Affairs Office in a statement.
AFP vice chief of ctaff Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado Jr will oversee the military’s daily operational activities, while AFP deputy chief of staff Lieutenant General Erickson Gloria will attend to administrative matters while Santos is on strict home quarantine.
Santos called on all who had close physical contact with him since March 13 to also go on self-quarantine, and those who met him from March 9 to 12, to take precautions and seek medical advice, the AFP said.
That includes Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who said earlier on Friday that he was going on home quarantine for 14 days after having been in “close proximity” to Santos during events on March 22 and 23.
Santos had donned the new rank of a senior AFP officer who was promoted recently. That officer later tested positive for the coronavirus, the AFP said. It did not disclose the date of the officer’s encounter with Santos.
On March 11, Santos and 21 other senior military officers took their oath before President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.
Duterte was tested for the virus the following day, March 12, because some members of his Cabinet had earlier come into contact with a coronavirus-positive patient.
On the evening of March 12, Santos sat behind Duterte as he announced that he was putting Metro Manila on lockdown starting March 15.
Duterte’s coronavirus test results came out negative on March 13.
Reporters on Friday asked Presidential Security Group commander Colonel Jesus Durante III whether Santos had been in contact with the President this week, or if they had attended the same event in Malacañang. Durante said Santos had no recent contact with Duterte. – with a report from Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.