The Rappler reported on on Saturday, April 4, said that Philippine Navy would convert the presidential yacht, the BRP Ang Pangulo, into a floating quarantine facility for COVID-19 patients, following orders given by President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, April 3. The Philippine Navy Navy has drawn up a “feasible plan” to make the the 60-year-old vessel “with interiors like a hotel” according to Duterte, suitable as a quarantine for persons under investigation (PUI) and persons under monitoring (PUM) for the novel coronavirus. With physical distancing, the BRP Ang Pangulo can take in 28 patients and 5 medical staff, while its regular crew will remain onboard.
BRP Ang Pangulo (AT-25) is a presidential yacht that was acquired by the Philippine government in 1959. RPS Lapu-Lapu (PY-77) was built in Japan as part of that country’s war reparations to the Philippines. At the initiative of President Carlos P. Garcia, Filipino naval engineers specifically designed the vessel for use as a presidential yacht. Later the vessel was renamed RPS The President and then BRP Ang Pangulo by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who restored its use as the presidential yacht, a status it has retained in all succeeding presidencies to the present day. On May 15, 2016, presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte announced his plans to sell the ship. However, after being told of the process for disposing of government and military assets by Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Restituto Padilla, Duterte said that he instead plans to convert the ship into a hospital ship in the event of a conflict.