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This has reference to the information that have been disclosed to the general public regarding the CoVID-19 case of a crew member of NAMRIA’s ship, BRP HYDROGRAPHER CAYETANO PALMA, which had drawn unwarranted attention to the agency and more particularly, to the subject personnel.

It is on this note that we wish to issue this statement with the end view of rectifying some misconceptions relative to the case. The documents from the respective hospitals and agency records may very well bear out the necessary facts in connection herewith.

As validated by the concerned officials of this agency, the crew member averred that he already underwent triage at the Baypointe Hospital on 12 March 2020. As required by protocols, he declared his travel to Mindoro as well as reporting even on his illness which he claimed to have occurred after cleaning his ship’s hull on 10 March 2020. Interestingly, he was not tagged either as PUM or PUI after this triage, and was subsequently allowed to go home after seeking consultation at the Emergency Room of that hospital. On 13 March 2020, he went back to Baypointe Hospital, again to seek consultation. Regrettably, he was denied entry for unknown reasons.

The following day, 14 March 2020, he went to St. Jude Hospital. His doctor was not around but he was able to talk to the doctor through phone, complaining that he has lost a sense of taste and was already feeling weak. After prescribing medicines to him, the doctor advised him against going to the hospital for fear that he might be exposed to CoVID. Nevertheless, since he was not identified at the Baypointe triage either as PUM or PUI, he decided to pursue further consultations.

On 16 March 2020, he again went to the hospital, this time at the Our Lady of Lourdes International Medical Center, for consultation. Therein, he was specifically asked if he had travelled to Manila, to which he readily answered in the negative. What he understood of the word “travel” means going around various places in Manila, which he certainly never did. He just passed by the city and never got out of his vehicle nor interacted with anyone. What he admitted, though, is the fact that he travelled to Mindoro, passing through Manila and Batangas via his own vehicle on 07 March 2020.

After completing triage at Our Lady of Lourdes International Medical Center where he made such declarations, the crew member was admitted for dengue, it being the initial diagnosis on him. On 18 March 2020, however, dengue was ruled out and only then was he officially declared as PUI. On 29 March 2020, he was declared CoVID-19 positive.

With regard to the ship commander’s remarks that have been circulated, allegedly saying that the crew member has been regularly taking “ship liberties” during evenings from December 2019 until 07 March 2020, NAMRIA records show, after verification of the time in/time out of the said personnel from 27 February to 07 March 2020, that he was aboard ship from 29 February to 06 March 2020 and slept therein during the period. Besides, it is also the ship’s policy that all personnel rendering scheduled watch duties must stay in the vessel overnight. As this policy is being strictly observed and enforced in all of our survey vessels, it is thus quite difficult for the subject crew to be on regular liberty pass even for the questioned period.

It is rather unfortunate that the published information generated ridicule and negative reactions both from the mainstream and social media platforms as well as from the people of Subic and Olongapo against NAMRIA and our personnel. In fact, the subject crew member continues to endure discriminatory remarks against his person and his family. We only wish a speedy recovery for him and pray that no harm shall visit upon him as soon as he is discharged from confinement.

We would like to assure the general public that NAMRIA is fully cooperative with regard to the matter at hand. We have already provided the government agencies and other entities mandated to address the CoVID-19 public health emergency with the relevant information in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and our ship commanders, we are in close coordination and communication with Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and other government authorities to ensure the welfare of our personnel and other potentially affected persons.

We have complied with the SBMA order to quarantine all four (4) NAMRIA ships and their crew of a total of 86 officers and non-commissioned officers. We have vigilantly monitored their condition and attended to all their needs. To date, we have already complied with the 14-day mandatory quarantine period and so far, all personnel aboard are fine and no one has exhibited any CoVID-19 symptoms or any sign of illness. Meanwhile, the subject crew member is doing fine and in good spirits. Swab sample for another CoVID-19 test was taken from him on 04 April 2020 and the release date of the result is still unknown. He shall be discharged from the hospital if the test result is negative and shall continue the 14-day quarantine period reckoned from 04 April 2020.

We hope for your kind understanding at this critical time. Everyone’s safety is our primary concern as we continue to prevent, contain, and mitigate the possible transmission of CoVID-19.