Defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos Jr. tested positive for COVID-19 just days after his wife Liza Araneta-Marcos announced that their family tested negative for the viral disease.
Marcos’ spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, shared in a statement that the former senator is infected with COVID-19 but added that the latter is currently recovering from the condition.
Marcos’ results were released from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine on March 28, Saturday.
Last March 26, Bongbong’s sister Sen. Imee Marcos told the reporters that her brother is “unwell” after returning from Spain on March 13 which prompted him to undergo self-quarantine at home.
Bongbong likewise issued a statement confirming that.
“Pagkagaling ko sa Europa, tumungo agad ako noong sumunod na araw, Marso 14, 2020 sa isang ospital upang magpasuri dahil sa medyo may pananakit ang aking dibdib at upang matiyak ang aking kondisyong pangkalusugan dahil sa mga panahong ‘yon ay lumalaganap na ang corona virus,” Marcos was quoted in the statement.
He later on went to his residence instead because there were lots of patients in the hospital who he thought needed more attention.
Bongbong claimed he didn’t go out of his room except on March 22 to go to the hospital’s emergency room because he experienced difficulty in breathing. This was when he was also tested for COVID-19.
However, his wife announced that the family and staff had “all tested negative” for the virus on March 26. She said that it only took them a day to receive the results.
But Bongbong in a separate statement issued said that he was still “waiting for the results” of his COVID-19 test.
The conflicting statements of Marcos, his wife and his spokesperson about the COVID-19 test results eventually raised questions on the local online community.
A Twitter user recalled what Marcos’ social media strategist, Franco Mabanta, previously wrote when Liza said that the family had “all tested negative” of the virus.
— ۞ 𝙰𝚗𝚐𝚎𝚕𝚘 𝚅𝚎𝚛𝚐𝚎𝚕 ψ (@nostalg14ngelo) March 31, 2020
Mabanta in a tweet on March 25 said that Bongbong was “safe and doing well,” dispelling speculations that the former senator was supposed to be flown to Singapore for COVID-19 treatment.
“Hi, everyone! The rumors are false. Tito @bongbongmarcos is safe and doing well. Negative for Corona,” he said.
However, when Rodriguez announced this late afternoon that Bongbong had tested positive for the virus, Mabanta changed tune and defended himself.
“Tito Bongbong Marcos just now tested positive. His son Sandro tells me he’s already feeling better,” Mabanta wrote.
“For those of you saying I posted fake news about his test results five days ago, I would never do that sort of thing. I was clearly, explicitly told by multiple people that he was not positive precisely when I made my post,” he added.
Mabanta continued that Bongbong “might’ve even had a second test administered as a private citizen to verify the first testing.
“So does this mean Bongbong Marcos was tested twice?” a Filipino asked.
“I thought Bongbong Marcos tested negative already according to his wife? So, did he lie or did he test twice? Either of the two is just not acceptable,” a Twitter user wrote.
Public officials including their kin have been getting tested for COVID-19 despite being asymptomatic.
This practice gained several criticisms from the public who called them out for alleged special treatment. Critics also cited the limited testing kits available in the country.
A number of persons considered under investigation, including frontliners, were reported to have lost their lives even before they were determined positive of the infection. Most of them were already past their 60s.
Others’ results were obtained the same day they had succumbed to the virus.
The Department of Health last week denied giving officials special treatment, saying “there is no policy for VIP treatment and that all specimens are being processed on a first-in, first-out basis.”
It, however, added that testing is “with courtesy accorded to officials holding positions of national security and public health.”