5 Brigada News staff infected with COVID-19 suffer humiliation, owner says

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 22 Sep) – At least five media workers of the Brigada Group of Companies infected with the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have suffered humiliation and discrimination, the company owner said Tuesday.

Brigada top executives in General Santos City. MindaNews file photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

Brigada owner Elmer Catulpos said the COVID-19 positives were among the frontliners from their headquarters in nearby General Santos City who have been subjected to the real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

In a statement, he assured the company’s help for the COVID-19 tested employees, noting their dignity must be ensured in the face of the discrimination even from family members and friends.

He said the “blaming and shaming of the infected must stop because they did not want this to happen to them.”

“While the pandemic has forced us to be physically apart, it must not prevent us from being emotionally and spiritually close with each other,” said Catulpos, who had reached out to the infected employees in isolation or quarantine.

Catulpos told the affected employees “that everything will turn out well and not to lose hope because Brigada will make it certain they will get the support they need to recover.”

Due to the COVID-19 positive results, the Brigada complex in Barangay San Isidro has been decontaminated to prevent the spread of the virus to other employees.

Catulpos said the company hired a Davao City-based diagnostic firm, the same company commissioned by other companies and agencies in GenSan, to test their frontline media workers for COVID-19.

The media conglomerate’s five positive cases were in stable condition and in isolation at a Brigada-owned facility in GenSan, their essential needs fully provided by the firm, according to Brigada’s corporate communications team.

The company’s occupational health personnel, in coordination with the Rural Health Unit (RHU) of Barangay San Isidro, have identified 13 personnel who had direct contact with four of the five positive cases, it said.

The “direct contact personnel” have been placed on quarantine under the supervision of the RHU in a hotel facility that is being rented entirely by the company for such purpose. Their families were also placed on strict home quarantine and close monitoring.

Catulpos said the firm’s four new COVID-19 cases were infected outside company premises, considering the nature of their job of being always on field work.

The firm’s first positive case reportedly came from the person’s constant exposure with police and security frontliners during law enforcement activities.

As of Monday evening, GenSan recorded 256 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 145 active cases, 103 recoveries and eight deaths, the Department of Health regional office reported.

Since the start of the pandemic, Brigada has adopted a work-from-home scheme among personnel to reduce the number of employees reporting for work in adherence to physical distancing, the firm said.

Catulpos said that what happened to Brigada frontliners can also happen to anyone in this time of the pandemic, but “we must not allow fear to consume us. If we do, it will only pull us down and make the situation we are in worse.”

Work continues in Brigada, which provides jobs to 1,000 men and women nationwide, with all personnel under strict instructions to adhere to the basic safety procedures of wearing face mask and face shield, regular handwashing and frequent use of alcohol, according to the statement. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)