COVID-19

10 Malacañang communications staff test positive for COVID-19

Pia Ranada
Suspension of physical work at the New Executive Building, located within the Malacañang complex and where PCOO staff and Secretary Martin Andanar hold office, is extended 'until further notice'

Ten employees of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, including two from state broadcaster Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), tested positive for COVID-19, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar announced on Saturday, July 25.

“A total of 10 of our personnel in the main office tested positive. We are relaying our hopes and prayers for their speedy recovery from the virus,” Andanar said in a statement.

The development comes two days before President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), an event typically documented by an RTVM team.

RTVM’s coverage will “proceed as planned,” with RTVM deploying a team composed of personnel who had no contact with the two RTVM staff members who are infected.

Andanar, meanwhile, said he tested negative for COVID-19.

Suspension of physical work at the New Executive Building, located within the Malacañang complex and where PCOO staff and Andanar hold office, was extended “until further notice.” Disinfection of the NEB is ongoing.

“Rest assured that the delivery of essential and timely information to the Filipino public will remain unhampered and unchanged as we have adopted a work-from-home arrangement,” said the PCOO chief.

Among the events that usually take place in the NEB is the regular Malacañang press briefings conducted by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

For the time being, Roque has set up a makeshift office outside of NEB where he holds his press conferences virtually, through video calls with reporters and guest officials.

The infected PCOO personnel adds to the growing list of employees hired by Malacañang or who work within the compound who have COVID-19.

Nine Presidential Security Group personnel – one assigned to the President but based in Davao City and 8 assigned to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea – had previously tested positive for COVID-19. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.