PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday made it clear that the force will shoulder the hospital bills of policemen who have contracted COVID-19.
“Our policemen won’t spend a single centavo in the event they are hospitalized for COVID-19,” the top cop assured members of the 209,000-strong police force even as he defended the PNP General Hospital from charges of incompetency when it comes to dealing with suspected or probable COVID-19 patients.
Gamboa told the Journal Group that the PNPGH which is under the PNP Health Service headed by Brigadier Gen. Herminio S. Tadeo Jr. has no medical equipment to take care of positive COVID-19 patients. Thus, PNPGH doctors are forced to ask members of the police force who have been infected with the virus to transfer to other hospitals.
The top cop also clarified ‘misconceptions’ by some members of the force that they will lose their bonuses and other allowances in the event they contract the virus and are forced to go to the hospital or undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
“I think it’s a misappreciation of facts lang. Probably, they will lose their COVID hazard pay lang, not everything. Since it is service-connected. I don’t think they will lose anything,” Gen. Gamboa said.
The PNP chief said that to further address the state of health of PNP ‘frontliners’ who are leading the government effort to prevent the spread of the virus thru the strict enforcement of health protocols specifically mandatory wearing of face masks and social distancing, they are set to open another RT-PCR laboratory at the PNP-HS compound in Camp Crame.
The 2nd such facility in Camp Crame will be able to test an average of 600 police personnel every day, he said. By August, Gen. Gamboa said they expect to open a similar facility in Cebu City and later, another in Davao City.
Gamboa told a press conference in Camp Crame yesterday “that the infection has now afflicted 2,023 PNP personnel (confirmed) as of 6 a.m. this day or roughly .88% (point 88 percent) of our total strength.”
“However, PNP medical and healthcare systems are able to adequately cope with the situation through PNP administered quarantine facilities, testing centers and medical services,” he said.
Gamboa added that despite the recent demise of the 10th PNP COVID-19 fatality last July 22, the overall mortality rate of PNP COVID cases remains fairly below national and international averages. The PNP chief said that the 10th fatality underwent consultations at the PNPGH but was eventually asked to transfer to another hospital since the Camp Crame hospital has no equipment to treat severe COVID-19 cases.
“We continue to quickly restore recovered PNP personnel to full duty status, as well as those who have completed quarantine to ensure maximum availability of personnel for police operations and general police functions,” he said.
PNPA TRAINING RESUMES
Gamboa said that he has approved the resumption of all activities at the PNP Academy after an investigation showed that the two recorded deaths from PNPA Class of 2020 were not COVID-related.
He said that following a thorough evaluation and assessment by the PNPA leadership, he gave the ‘go-signal’ to resume the training of the cadets.
The PNP chief said that all members of PNPA Class 2024 were subjected to a COVID test with only one or two of them found to be positive for the virus and are now under quarantine.
Gamboa bares that they have also recorded some virus cases at the PNP Regional Training Centers in Regions 3,4-A and 7. At the RTC4-A in Lucena City, he said that 183 of 350 students were found to be infected in seven days.
He said National Police Training Institute, Major Gen. Ramon L. Rafael has ordered the isolation of the infected students. After a 14-day quarantine, they will be subjected to a swab test, the PNP chief said.
Gamboa stressed that policemen and trainees who have tested positive for the virus were immediately segregated from the rest of the group.
At the RTC 4-A in Lucena City, he said that they have found out that prior to the COVID-19 infections, an average of eight students were sleeping in a single tent. The infections prompted officials to reduce the number of occupants of a single tent to only four students.
Buffet food was also prohibited and replaced with individual pack meals.
“Another major change is that there will be no more people specifically instructors allowed to teach in the area. It will be thru zoom only,” Gamboa said.