Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Western Mindanao Command chief


With three suspected Covid-19-related deaths in Sulu recently, a military official said government agencies should send test kits to island provinces in Western Mindanao.

Speaking over “Tapatan sa Aristocrat” virtual forum Monday morning, Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana said authorities were waiting for test kits to find out the extent of Covid-19 infections in the area.

“While we can see a low number of Covid-19 cases in Western Mindanao, perhaps we can attribute this to the fact that we lack test kits,” Sobejana said.

Sobejana noted that some 500 Filipinos had returned from Sabah after Malaysian authorities implemented a “Movement Control Order” last March 18 to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“We have designated one island in Basilan to serve as quarantine site for the returning Filipinos where they stayed for two weeks,” he said.

Sobejana said the military was concerned over the required logistics for about 500 more Filipinos returning to the country from oil-rich Sabah.

He explained the military was simply following the presidential directive not to refuse entry to returning Filipinos.

Mindanao Development Authority Chairman Emmanuel Piñol earlier wrote Datuk Seri Panglima HJ. Mohd. Shafie Bin Haji Apdal, the Sabah chief minister, to suspend the deportation of undocumented Filipinos in Sabah until travel restrictions are lifted. (Melo M. Acuña)