Duterte wants to personally welcome Filipino repatriates from virus-stricken China: official

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2020 02:18 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the 46th Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañan Palace on Feb. 4, 2020. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte wants to personally welcome Filipinos coming from China, the origin of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, a Palace official claimed Wednesday, as the Philippines prepares for the arrival of the first batch of repatriates on Saturday.

Duterte wants to see the arrival of the repatriates but there are still ongoing discussions with the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and Presidential Management Staff (PMS) over his security, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles told reporters in Malacañang.

“The President wants to be there. He’d like to be there on Saturday pero tingnan na muna natin sa (let’s see with the) PMS and PSG,” Nograles said.

The President had ordered Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to welcome the repatriates and to ensure that protective measures are in place, Nograles added.

Malacañang on Wednesday said the repatriates would arrive at the Clark International Airport and transported to Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija for a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

As of Wednesday, 42 Filipinos have expressed their desire to come home, according to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Eduardo Menez.

The President, who earlier said that the virus outbreak was “nothing really to be extra-scared of,” also rejected calls of his staff to limit his public engagements for the meantime, Nograles said.

“He (Duterte) just wants to keep on doing the things he’s doing without imposing limitations sa kaniyang (on his) movement,” the Cabinet secretary said. “He doesn’t want to change the way he conducts his business.”