Officials issuing apologies for availing of COVID-19 testing kits

March 23, 2020 - 2:23 PM
Scientist in a lab
A scientist holding a test tube in a laboratory. (Pexels/Polina Tankilevitch)

While several politicians availed of the opportunity to get tested for novel coronavirus despite being asymptomatic, a few of them apologized for having done so in light of the scarcity of the testing kits in the country.

Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla admitted that he “may have skipped” the protocols and algorithm set by the health department in determining who needs to get tested.

“There’s a protocol and triage algorithm set by DOH (the Department of Health) that I may have skipped. I take full responsibility if you think I took advantage of my position,” he shared on his Twitter account.

“I am not exempted nor immune to the virus, no one is. I would like to apologise and I promise never to take advantage of my position again,” Remulla added.

The Cavite governor previously took a swab test after he found out that he had attended a meeting on COVID-19 mitigation with someone who was “running with fever,” according to his Facebook post.

“I personally asked one of the provincial health officers to administer the test thinking that my day is full of meeting people and making collegial decisions,” Remulla shared.

He also placed himself under home quarantine and executed his duties from his residence while he waited for his results from the Research Institue for Tropical Medicine.

Remulla announced that he took a swab test as Cavite had recorded the fifth confirmed COVID-19 case in the province.

Based on the DOH’s coronavirus tracker, the city has seven confirmed cases as of midday of Monday, March 23.

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Tolentino also issued an apology for taking a swab test but he stressed that he had “colds and dry cough” for four days before sending his samples.

“My negative result was not a DOH test. I apologize for undertaking the same as I was likewise exposed to the persons positive with COVID-19 whom my colleagues got in contact with during our hearings,” he wrote on Facebook.

“Further, my colds and dry cough had persisted during my self-quarantine period, thus I took the test after my self cough medication appeared insufficient after four days,” Tolentino added.

Posted by Francis Tolentino on Sunday, March 22, 2020


Tolentino previously shared in a now-deleted Facebook post that he tested negative for the viral disease and accompanied it with a picture of a masked medical personnel on his side.

“Salamat sa Diyos. Negative po ako sa Coronavirus. Dalangin ko rin po ang kaligtasan ng bawat Pilipino,” his caption had read.

Tolentino deleted it after it received criticism from the online local community who has been urging the government to prioritize testings of actual persons under investigations, specifically those in the frontlines and the elderly.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who tested positive for COVID-19, waived the opportunity to avail of a follow-up test. It was offered by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, he said, who thought the first one that turned out positive could be “false.”

“With all due respect to our dear Secretary (Duque), I feel that the remaining available testing kits should be utilized by those who need them the most, like frontline medical personnel and symptomatic patients, especially the elderly,” Zubiri said before.

Almost all senators previously availed of the opportunity to be tested even though most of them were asymptomatic.

Sens. Nancy Binay and Sherwin Gatchalian were the first ones to be tested after they discovered that a resource person who attended a Senate hearing on March 5 had tested positive for the virus.

RELATED: A closer look at DOH’s triage system and why politicians, officials are getting tested for COVID-19

Those who refused were opposition Sens. Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros who opted to undergo self-quarantine at home instead due to the reported limited supply of test kits.

While some officials refused to be tested or have apologized amid criticisms on VIP testing, columnist Ramon Tulfo, also a former special envoy for public diplomacy to China, lashed out at those who are bashing him.

“I had been exposed to so many people before that. I had a sore throat, one of the symptoms for Covid-19, and I just followed the advice of my doctor to have myself examined,” Tulfo said.

“What was wrong with that?” he asked and then cursed his bashers.

Several Filipinos and social sectors are calling out officials who undertook the COVID-19 detection test despite being asymptomatic.

In view of this, the online users created the hashtag #NoToVIPTesting to denounce people using their position’s access to the limited testing kits and called for mass testing.

The hashtag is currently the fourth top trending topic on local Twitter with over 96,700 tweets as of writing.

The Department of Health stated in its latest algorithm that people with no fever, malaise or respiratory-related symptoms should not be tested and be quarantined at home for 14 days.

While the World Health Organization has insisted that mass testing is the key to further prevent the spread of COVID-19, the country is facing a lack of supply in testing kits which prompted people to appeal to the government to prioritize persons under investigation.