Cayetano, other lawmakers to go on self-quarantine after exposure to COVID-19-positive Yap

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2020 11:38 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2020 12:09 AM

MANILA - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and the lawmakers and staff physically present during the special session of Congress last Monday at the Batasan Pambansa will go on self-quarantine after the disclosure of Rep. Eric Yap that he tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Yap was among the 21 lawmakers and 10 staff who were physically present while 279 others joined the special session by teleconferencing. 

A list provided to media by the House on Monday identified the 20 lawmakers who were at the special session as Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Representatives Sharky Palma, Precious Castelo and Mikey Arroyo, Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante, France Castro and Janette Garin, Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu, LRay Villafuerte, Robbie Puno and Dong Gonzales, Representatives Bong Suntay, Jon Jalosjos, Manny Lopez, Tonypet Albano, Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, Bambol Tolentino, Blu Abaya, Mike Defensor, Cayetano, and Yap.

Following Yap’s revelation, House Secretary-General Jose Luis Montales told ABS-CBN News that they will again disinfect the Batasan Pambansa premises.

“Yes we disinfect after every use, before closing any room/building. Yes following protocols, they will be on self quarantine," he said.

Montales was himself not physically present as he took care of the video conferencing from home.

Yap held up one of the 2 posters calling on the public to stay home during the special session that became controversial on social media because netizens felt that the lawmakers were likening themselves to medical frontliners.

Asked about the photo, Yap replied: “Ok lang sir basta naman pulitiko nababash. Di ko kasi nabasa din nakasulat, hinawakan ko lang.”

Yap told ABS-CBN News that he informed Cayetano when he attended the meeting at the Palace last March 21 for the Special Powers Bill, that he had doubts on his health. 

“Yup. Sinabi ko kay Speaker na nagsafety measures ako kasi wala pa test ko. Pero wala naman ako kasi symptoms pa nun," he said.

COVID-19 SYMPTOMS

Yap recalled what prompted him to get tested on March 15. 

“Nung March 15 nag pa test ako kasi may ubo ako na mild. Sabi 5 days lalabas result pero pumasok pa ako 16 kasi may mga meeting na need attend sa Congress," he said.

Yap said pending the release of his COVID-19 test results, he took safety precautions but still came to work. 

"Since wala pa result nagpunta ako kasi need to help pero nag social distancing na ako. Nung sa March 20 nag follow-up na ako result kasi need ko punta sa Malacañang March 21. Pero wala pa daw kaya sabi mask ako N95 then always alcohol tapos wala akong nilapitan at hinawakan dun. March 22 nag-follow up ulit ako sa RITM pero wala pa result. Need ko kasi pumasok sa 23, Monday kasi I want to make sure mapasa ung bill kasi alam ko need ng Pilipinas 'yun but I still wear mask and social distancing pati alcohol. Since wala ako lagnat at 'yung ubo ko mild lang kaya pag need sa Congress pumapasok ako," he said.

“Pagdating ng March 15 po may ubo-ubo kasi ako 2 weeks na noon baka may symptoms baka may COVID ako nagpatest ako noon," Yap added.

'NO VIP TESTING'

In a Facebook live post after his public disclosure, Yap said his case is proof that not all politicians get VIP treatment in COVID-19 testing.

"Ako po nagpa-test po kasi ako March 15. Sinasabi po nila pag pulitiko po VIP. Hindi po ganoon. March 15 ngayon ko lang po nakuha result ko, 10 araw po 'yun. Ang akin po ako nagpa-test ako dahil noong March 10 ako ay nagkaroon ng hearing sa Committee on Appropriations tungkol sa supplemental budget na kailangan ng ating presidente para labanan ang COVID-19," he said.

“Hindi ako dumaan ng VIP testing dahil 10 days nga po ako nag antay so dahil wala pa yung result noong Saturday na March 22 siguro noon Sabado or 21 tinawagan ko yung DOH at ako'y nag-follow up," Yap added.

"Dahil nakita ko pong importante ito naniniwala akong kailangan ng presidente ito para labanan ang COVID-19, imbes na po 'di na pumasok di na ituloy ang hearing, ipinatuloy ko po ang committee hearing para maaprubahan ang budget na ito. Hindi naman po ako nagsisisi na itinuloy ko yun dahil naniniwala po ako na kailangan talaga ng ating bansa yung mga pondo para labanan ang COVID-19," he explained.

Yap said he was told by the Department of Health to just take precautions while waiting for his result. 

"Sabi ng DOH wala pa, mag-ingat na lang ako mag mask ako, mag-alcohol ako lagi. Ganoon po ginawa ko nung nasa Malacañang ako, nag-disinfect ako. Never po ako lumapit sa mga Cabinet secretary na malapit at pag buong time po naka-mask ako. Natanggal ko lang 1 beses siguro sa picture pero hindi ako nakipagkamay sa mga Cabinet secretaries, kay Speaker, kay Senate President dahil ako po iniisip ko kahit wala pang result ayaw ko makahawa just in case po," he said.

"So pagdating na nung Monday na itong 23 tinawagan ko ulit noong Sunday yung DOH kung may result na dahil ayaw ko pong makahawa pero hindi ko naman po pwedeng hindi pumasok sa 23 dahil napakahalaga po noon nitong gagawin nating special session,” Yap added.

Yap also said he had to leave Monday's session early due to chills.

"Pagdating ng mga alas-nuwebe ng gabi ng 23, giniginaw na po ako. Nagpaalam ako kay Speaker na baka pwede na ako magpahinga na dahil alas-7:30 na kami ng umaga. Nahiya ako sa mga kasamahan ko kasi hindi ko sila nasamahan hanggang madaling araw hanggang matapos. Pero noong hindi ko na talaga kaya nagpaalam ako pinayagan ako ni Speaker at umuwi ako," he said.

"So ako naman kumbaga kahit na yung symptoms wala po ako lagnat, gininaw lang po yung kamay ko hanggang ngayon wala ako lagnat pero may paubo-ubo ako," Yap added.

Aside from attending meetings in Congress and the Palace, Yap also said he was doing constituency work while waiting for his COVID-19 test result.

"Tapos 'pag ninenerbiyos ako doon ko lang nahirapan huminga pero pag hindi, hindi ho. Hanggang sa kanina po galing po ako sa action center po tinignan ko po yung mga relief na papamigay kung maayos po lahat. Doon po ako nakatanggap ng tawag sa DOH," he said.

"Siyempre po nanghina po tayo noong naramdaman natin 'yung tawag na 'yun at ngayon po naka-isolate na po ako sa kuwarto hindi na po puwede lumabas. 'Yun po 'yung sinasabi namin na message po na stay home po kasi sa totoo lang kung ako po hindi ako public servant nasa bahay lang po ako. Sigurado naman po hindi ako mahawa noon dahil hindi po ako lalabas," Yap added.

Yap reiterated his call for the public to stay home. 

"Kaya mga kababayan ang message ko lang po hangga't maaari 'wag kayong lumabas. Alam niyo po yung nararamdaman ko ngayon nasasaktan po ako dahil hindi ko ho alam na may COVID ako. Wala pa 'yung result ko noon," he said. 

"Uulitin ko, walang may kasalanan dito dahil talagang hirap na hirap ang DOH at RITM. Ginagawa nila ang kanilang makakaya," Yap explained.

Yap also apologized to everyone he was in close contact with even as he assured his constituents that work will continue even during his isolation. 

“Sa mga kasamahan ko sa Kongreso, gusto ko sana humingi ng paumanhin sa inyo. Sa mga nakasalamuha ko naman, huwag po kayo mag-alala, siguro mga ilang days na rin po iyon and sa mga kababayan natin stay at home po 'pag 'di na kailangan. Kakayanin po natin ito malalagpasan po natin itong pagsubok na ito," he said.

Meanwhile, Abante, in a press statement, said he has initiated tracing for those who came into contact with him following Yap’s disclosure. He also will go on self-quarantine.