CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Bukidnon mayors who met and dined with Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri have subjected themselves to self-imposed quarantine after the lawmaker has announced he tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) early this week.
Renante Inocando, 44, mayor of Cabanglasan town, said in a phone interview Wednesday (March 18) he and his colleagues isolated themselves upon learning of Zubiri’s COVID-19 test result.
Inocando said he along with 17 local chief executives from Bukidnon had lunch with Zubiri at a restaurant on March 10, the second day of the three-day League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) annual national assembly in Manila.
A lunch or dinner with Zubiri has become a sort of tradition whenever the province’s local officials are in the national capital.
Inocando is the LMP chapter president for Bukidnon, which consists of 20 municipalities and two component cities (Valencia and Malaybalay).
Those who did not attend the luncheon were the mayors from Impasugong and Kitaotao.
The mayor said his first impression upon seeing Zubiri was that of a healthy person with no sign of any illness.
“I saw him walking briskly towards us. He looks fit. He did not even sneeze or cough during the entire time that we were with him,” Inocando said.
He said the senator told them not to shake hands with him as Zubiri has reminded them to observe “social distancing,” one of the ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection.
Inocando said Zubiri came in with his brother, Bukidnon’s 3rd District Rep. Manuel Zubiri, and three of his senatorial staff right about the time the mayors were finishing their meal.
“He sat at the end of a long table and talked to us as he ate,” he said, adding the meeting lasted for almost an hour.
He said they talked about a variety of topics but focusing on the Senate hearing on the coronavirus and the various projects Zubiri has extended to the mayors.
Inocando said they had a photo opportunity with Zubiri before parting ways with the lawmaker. The mayors went home to Bukidnon on March 11 (Wednesday).
“After returning home, it was business as usual, although some mayors, on the advice of their municipal health officers, have put themselves on self-quarantine as a precaution. That was before Sen. Zubiri made the announcement,” Inocando said.
When news broke out that Zubiri has tested positive for COVID-19 Monday (March 16), Inocando said he called up his fellow local chief executives and told them to put themselves on self-imposed quarantine, at least those who have not done so yet.
In his statement, Zubiri has said he did not manifest any of the symptoms normally associated with persons being infected with the coronavirus.
Inocando said he isolated himself from his family and even cooked his meals.
“I stayed in a separate house within our residential compound,” he said.
The Department of Health has advised persons who may come in contact with those having symptoms or are being declared as positive of COVID-19 to undergo 14-day isolation.
Even if he has not reported for duty since Tuesday (March 17), Inocando said transactions at the municipal hall has not been disrupted.
He also as not designated an officer-in-charge to function as a temporary town mayor.
“I communicated with my staff and department heads through cellphones. Documents that need my signature are brought in to me, but there is no physical contact involved,” he said.
At present, Inocando said the municipal hall does not receive visitors, except for those with prior appointments, especially those coming from Davao City, and gatherings are discouraged.
“In fact, I have to cancel the officiating of a wedding yesterday,” he said.
Since their meeting with Zubiri last week, Inocando said all the 18 mayors have been feeling well so far.
“We hope it will be over soon,” Inocando said, adding, they will only come out of their isolation if Zubiri will not manifest the symptoms after two weeks, or if his re-testing will come out negative. (davaotoday.com)