Panelo wants PSG probe on entry of Sanchez family into Malacañang

Robie de Guzman   •   September 5, 2019   •   568

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) should launch an investigation into the entry to Malacañang of the family of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Thursday.

Panelo earlier admitted to meeting with the Sanchez kin twice in his office at the New Administrative Building in the Palace but insisted that he did not know how they managed to come to his office.

“Let the PSG investigate. How were they able to enter without our knowledge?” he said.

“I think that’s a security problem of the PSG, not us. Lax siguro,” he added.

Records in a logbook in Panelo’s office show that the Sanchez family went to Malacañang to meet with the presidential spokesman on February 7 and 26. The family also tried to see Panelo on Feb. 21 but the meeting did not push through because he was out of the office.

Aside from Sanchez kin, Panelo also admitted to meeting with members of the Ampatuan family in Malacañang recently after the latter sought his help as their former legal counsel.

Some members of the Ampatuan family were accused as masterminds of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre. The case is expected to be up for verdict this year.

A copy of an email dated July 17 from the Office of the President showed the family was referred to Panelo’s office after they failed in their initial request to get an audience with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“They are asking the intercession of the President,” he said.

“They are claiming that inosente sila. Oh, sabi ko, ‘Bakit hindi sumurrender?’ Siyempre ayaw daw sumurrender kasi pareho nung mga kapatid nakakulong hanggang ngayon, hindi pa tapos ang trial,” he added. (with details from correspondent, Rosalie Coz) /RRD

PSG now requiring COVID-19 rapid testing before meeting with Duterte

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) is now requiring everyone who goes near President Rodrigo Duterte to undergo a rapid testing to detect novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as part of its security measures.

In a statement issued Wednesday, PSG Commander Col. Jesus Durante said the COVID-19 rapid testing is part of its regular screening procedures being required for anyone who seeks to meet with Duterte.

“The procedure exempts nobody and is even administered to high-ranking government officials, PSG troopers, and close-in personnel who always accompany the president,” Durante said.

“This is in addition to existing medical assessments and stringent measures being enforced by PSG in order to ensure the safety and good health of the President,” he added.

Durante said the rapid tests are administered by PSG Task Force COVID-19 medical team, and is different from the Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test kits administered by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and its affiliates.

“Those found positive during the rapid tests will not be allowed to enter the facility. Much more if the concerned party manifests fever and other symptoms related to COVID-19,” he said.

The PSG chief, however, said that the COVID-19 rapid test results are not definite, and are still subject for confirmation.

“PSG does not claim that the results of the rapid tests are definite and absolute. It is still subject for confirmation thru RT-PCR tests administered by RITM,” he said.

The rapid testing requirement is the latest security measure imposed by the PSG following its enforcement of “no touch policy” on President Duterte.

It previously required all visitors to Malacañang to fill-out a form declaring some personal and health information before they are allowed entry into the Palace grounds. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PSG eyeing raps vs party-list solon for breaching Palace COVID-19 protocols

Robie de Guzman   •   March 26, 2020

ACT-CIS party-list Representative Eric Go Yap

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Thursday said it is eyeing to file charges against ACT-CIS party-list Representative Eric Go Yap for breaching the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols being implemented in Malacañang.

Yap, who tested positive for COVID-19, failed to disclose that he got tested for the viral disease or that he was experiencing any symptoms when he attended a meeting in the Palace on March 21 with top government officials, PSG commander Colonel Jesus Durante III said.

Since February, Malacañang has been requiring Palace visitors to fill out a form declaring their travel history and other necessary personal information due to the COVID-19 threat.

The form states that failure to respond to any question or falsifying answers may entail serious consequences under the Revised Penal Code.

“He did fill up itong form, but he did not declare na may contact siya with some people who were found positive and he has cough, and if he is experiencing some symptoms. Di niya dineclare ito,” Durante said.

“…If really needed, we could file a case against him for the breach na ginawa niya,” he added.

Durante said they are currently investigating the incident, adding that at least 20 personnel present during the meeting had been placed under self-quarantine.

The PSG chief has assured that President Rodrigo Duterte was not exposed to Yap during the meeting, as they have been imposing measures limiting the president’s attendance to meetings, and contact with other Palace visitors.

Yap on Wednesday announced he contracted COVID-19.

He apologized and appealed for understanding to those whom he may have exposed to the virus. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

PSG: Duterte’s foreign travels suspended amid COVID-19 pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   March 12, 2020

resident Rodrigo Roa Duterte boards a vehicle as he prepares to leave for The Athenee Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand for the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit opening ceremony on June 23, 2019. Joining the President is Senator-elect Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Thursday announced that all foreign travels of President Rodrigo Duterte is suspended “for now” in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The PSG said the decision to suspend Duterte’s foreign trips, especially to countries with confirmed coronavirus cases, follows the recommendation of the Department of Health (DOH).

The announcement comes after Malacañang bared that the president will undergo testing for coronavirus after exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual in an event last week. Several members of his Cabinet and some lawmakers also decided to go on self-quarantine.

In photos released to media, Duterte is seen being tested for coronavirus inside the Malacañang complex with Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, his former longtime aide.

Go said he and the chief executive were tested around 5 p.m. Thursday by a medical staff from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Results of the test will be out in 48 hours, according to Go.

The senator earlier said they will undergo testing to ensure that they are fit and healthy to engage the public and perform duties in the coming days and weeks. He also said they are not showing any symptom of the virus.

The Philippines has so far recorded 52 confirmed infections with two fatalities. Two have recovered and have been discharged while 48 remain admitted at various hospitals in the country.

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