Testing always a priority, insists Palace despite Duterte’s ‘late realization’ on its value
MANILA, Philippines — Testing for the new coronavirus has always been a priority of the government, Malacañang maintained Tuesday, following criticisms that President Rodrigo Duterte was late in the realization that testing is important to effectively address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque even touted anew the country’s testing capacity, which he claimed is the highest in Asia and one of the highest globally, to prove that COVID-19 testing is indeed a priority in the country.
“Sa mula’t-mula po ang ating prayoridad ay i-improve ang ating testing capacity kaya po ngayon tayo ay isa sa pinakamataas na testing capacity sa buong Asia,” he said in a press briefing.
(Ever since, our priority is to improve the country’s testing capacity. That’s why we have the highest testing capacity in all of Asia.)
“We’ve always given priority to testing, nandyan si Vince Dizon as testing czar and we now have one of the highest testing capacities in the whole world,” he added.
Duterte, in a speech on Monday night, revealed he realized that COVID-19 testing is “really important.” This came nine months into the public health crisis brought by SARS-CoV-2, a new variant of coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
“You know, what’s really important, and I realized now, it’s the testing, the swabbing, the test. It’s expensive,” Duterte told Duque, speaking partly in Filipino.
READ: Duterte wants gov’t health facilities to give free COVID-19 tests
To recall, however, several groups and individuals have been pressing the government as early as March to conduct mass testing to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
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