Gordon counters Marcoleta: PRC also did retests on health workers
MANILA, Philippines — It was also the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) who did the retest of Subic Bay health workers who got a “false positive” COVID-19 test contrary to a lawmaker’s claims, Senator Richard Gordon said on Tuesday.
Gordon countered Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, explaining that PRC automatically does a rerun on a high number of patients who tested positive to avoid scenarios where more health workers get infected.
Marcoleta, whom Gordon called as the “demolition expert” behind the rejection of ABS-CBN’s new franchise application, said that 44 of 49 health workers in Subic were tested positive by PRC, but only four actually got infected with COVID-19 upon retesting.
“Di po ba totoo na ngayon eh pinaiimbestiga niyo ‘yong Subic lab dahil ‘yong kahol ng kahol na si Marcoleta na kunyari kinumpare ako, akala niya siguro magpepresidente ako, gagamitin niyo ako? Nagpakumpare naman ako […] eh ngayon minumura kami ni Marcoleta, hindi ko na dapat pansinin yan. ‘Yan ang demolition expert sa ABS-CBN,” Gordon, who is also chair of PRC, said.
(Isn’t it true that you are asking for an investigation of the Subic lab because this Marcoleta who has been barking non-stop, who tried to befriend me because he thought I was running for President, so you want to use me? I actually befriended him […] but now he is badmouthing us, I should no longer pay attention to him. He’s the demolition expert behind ABS-CBN.)
“Alam po ba ninyo na nagorder kami ng rerun noon without you telling us? Automatic yan. ang dami nila eh, 40 sa isang ospital galing sa isang ospital na pwedeng magkaroon ng COVID, magkalat, ‘yan ang pinaguusapan natin, COVID or non-COVID pwede magkaroon ang health workers ng COVID. Kaya nung nagpa examine sila — 40 ‘yon — lumabas, sila ay positive at nirecheck namin,” he added.
(Do you know that we ordered a rerun of the tests without you telling us? That would be automatic, there were many of them, 40 individuals from one hospital which may be a host for COVID-19 outbreaks, that’s what we are talking about, they can have COVID-19 whether or not health workers were infected. So we examined them again, after they tested positive and we had them rechecked.)
Gordon also told Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III that they are open for an investigation on the allegations as they have always submitted test results to DOH and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
He also revealed that PRC even developed a computer program that would make transmission of data quicker — which the DOH has adopted.
“Ni-recheck namin ‘yan at na-found out na positive. At pagkatapos ngayon biglang sasabihin ng mga alipores ni President Duterte, ni Atty. Duterte, na ito raw ay mali, at ngayon pinapaimbestiga niya kami. We are open sir, because we report all the testing to the DOH and to the RITM. Is that correct sir?” Gordon asked Duque.
(We rechecked and we found out that they were positive. But now, President Duterte, Atty. Duterte’s henchmen would say that these are wrong, and now he wants us investigated.)
“As far as I know, yes Mr. Chairman,” Duque replied.
Both the Senate and the House are investigating the procurement of allegedly overpriced pandemic supplies, based on a Commission on Audit (COA) report of DOH which showed deficiencies on its P67.32 billion COVID-19 funds.
But in the House hearing on Monday, Marcoleta turned his attention to reports of false negative tests through PRC’s testing facility in Subic.
“After three days, they had themselves retested in another facility, and 44 out of the 49, false positive Mr. Chair. Nag-negative silang lahat, ibig sabihin [they all tested negative, which means] Mr. Chair, there is about 90 percent error in the laboratory of the Philippine Red Cross in Subic,” Marcoleta said.
“Mukhang nakaka-alarm po ‘yon considering our need to be very accurate in our data, mahirap po ito kapag hindi na ninyo na-ayos ito,” he added.
(That is alarming, considering our need to be very accurate in our data, that will be a problem if it is not addressed.)
Then in his late Monday night briefing, President Rodrigo Duterte asked DOH to probe the alleged ‘false positive’ COVID-19 tests from PRC. He also asked Gordon if he had diverted his pork barrel to the organization.
But Gordon said that Duterte should stop dragging PRC into the issue as the humanitarian organization has been doing its job well.
Earlier, Gordon mentioned a list of the things PRC did for the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, asking the administration why it is now lambasting PRC when it was appreciative of its efforts early into the health crisis.
Marcoleta and Duterte’s criticisms of Gordon and PRC came after the Senate blue ribbon committee centered on the P8.7 billion worth of contracts granted by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. despite the firm having only a startup capital of P625,000.
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