PSG hits congressman Eric Yap for ‘endangering’ Malacañang officials, staff

Sofia Tomacruz

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PSG hits congressman Eric Yap for ‘endangering’ Malacañang officials, staff
(UPDATED) Presidential Security Group Commander Colonel Jesus Durante says he will file a case against ACT-CIS Representative Eric Yap 'if necessary'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) slammed ACT-CIS Representative Eric Yap for endangering officials and staff in Malacañang when he breached Palace protocols put in place amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Presidential Security Group Commander Colonel Jesus Durante made the statement in an interview on  state-run PTV on Thursday, March 26, a day after the House committee on appropriations chairperson tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Yap attended a meeting in Malacañang on Saturday, March 21, even if he had not yet received the results of his coronavirus test taken on March 15. 

The RITM, 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.

It really endangered everyone dito sa loob ng Palasyo (It really endangered everyone in the Palace),” said an upset Durante.

Cabinet officials who were at the March 21 meeting were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista.

Lawmakers at the meeting were Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Senators Bong Go and Pia Cayetano, and Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte.

Case vs Yap?

Durante said the PSG would consider filing a case against Yap for failing to disclose important information in the declaration form that all Palace guests were required to fill out as a precautionary measure amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“If it’s really necessary that we have to file a case against him then we will,” Durante said. 

All guests entering Malacañang have to fill declaration forms asking for details on contact tracing and monitoring, checks for coronavirus symptoms, as well as travel history. 

“Ang problema, itong si Congressman Yap, he did fill up the form but he did not declare na may contact siya with some people who were found positive and that he has coughed; he has been experiencing some symptoms. Hindi niya lahat dineclare ito,” Durante said. 

(The problem with Congress Yap is he did fill up the form but he did not declare that he had contact with some people who were found positive and that he has coughed; he has been experiencing some symptoms. He didn’t declare all this.)

Yap’s office declined to comment on Durante’s statement as of posting. 

Yap said on Wednesday that he was tested for COVID-19 on March 15 after being exposed to different persons who had contact with a coronavirus patient since March 10. The congressman added he was “paranoid” after experiencing a slight cough, though he felt “it was normal.”  

He had apologized for placing at risk all the people he made contact with in the past days.

Stricter measures

Durante said the PSG was investigating the incident and that at least 6 PSG personnel involved in screening Yap would be isolated. Other Malacañang personnel would also undergo self-quarantine, he added. 

Durante denied there were possible “lapses” in the PSG’s screening measures but following the incident, more “enhanced screening measures” would be implemented in Malacañang.

Avisado, Bautista, and Go have since announced they would place themselves under quarantine.

The Philippines has recorded at least 636 cases as of Wednesday, including 38 deaths and 26 recoveries. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.