Veteran broadcast journalist Arnold Clavio on Sunday shared that a private organization donated a mortuary freezer to a hospital after he disclosed shortage of which over the weekend.
In an Instagram post last April 11, Clavio claimed that an unnamed Metro Manila hospital was concealing its COVID-19 death toll as ordered. He added that the hospital is running out of body bags due to the increasing number of novel coronavirus-related deaths.
Clavio also tagged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on the same post and asked him of the real situation of the pandemic in the country.
Despite non-disclosure of the hospital name, the Department of Health immediately denied giving a directive to conceal the death toll and the East Avenue Medical Center likewise denied receiving it from them.
Clavio later earned criticisms online with accusations against him allegedly sharing false information on his social media accounts.
However, the celebrated GMA journalist stood by the information he received from a frontliner whose name he did not disclose.
“Hindi kredibilidad ang nakataya dito, ngunit ang buhay ng mga front liner na humingi ng tulong sa akin para mailabas ang katotohanan at mailigtas ang maraming Pilipino,” Clavio said in one of his posts.
Amid the mixed reactions online, Clavio announced that non-profit organization Rosita Soliman Foundation Inc. donated a refrigerated container van, supposedly used for food storage, to serve as a temporary freezer for the bodies.
He also expressed his gratitude to RSF’s founder Jo Soliman for the initiative.
“Maraming salamat po sa mabilis ninyong aksyon at hindi na mangangamba ang mga frontliner sa kanilang kaligtasan,” Clavio said.
Soliman likewise shared details of this donation which was coordinated with partners from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
“It is without hesitation that we, Rosita Soliman Foundation Inc., answer the call of our government for help amid this global pandemic. Today we have mobilized and turn over one 40-ft refrigerated container van that can serve as temporary freezer (the most decent we could find and provide, wala na pong space sa morgue) for East Avenue Medical Center in Quezon City,” Soliman’s post read.
Hearing the call melts and at the same time saddens our hearts… we had to leave home for a while to get busy to help…
The GMA broadcaster then expressed gratitude to those who supported and took action to meet the hospital’s needs which he revealed on their behalf.
“Pero sa mga naging reaksyon ng gobyerno at pribado, ay sapat na at nangibabaw pa rin ang pakikipag-kapwa tao at yun ang mahalaga,” Clavio said.
Body bags shortage
In his first Instagram post, Clavio specified that the unnamed hospital, which turned out to be the EAMC in Quezon City, also requested for additional supplies of body bags from a supplier.
“Sa loob ng isang araw, 10 ang namamatay. Kaya nanawagan na ang ospital sa supplier ng mga body bags para paglagyan ng mga namatay,” he said.
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Mga ‘iGan, ang impormasyon na ito ay hindi para manakot o lumikha ng situwasyon para mag-panic ang publiko. Pero may karapatan tayo na malaman ang katotohanan mula sa gobyerno – Department of Health at mga lokal na pamahalaan. At may karapatan din ako na iparating ito sa kinauukulan. Sa isang ospital sa Metro Manila, may utos na huwag nang magbilang ng namamatay dahil sa COVID19. Ayon sa isang frontliner, nakakatakot ang situwasyon dahil nagkalat sa hallway ng ospital ang mga bangkay. Sa isang ward, may 15-20 ang Covid19 positive. Sa tatlong ward, puno ng PUI (Person Under Investigation). Sa loob ng isang araw, 10 ang namamatay. Kaya nanawagan na ang ospital sa supplier ng mga body bags para paglagyan ng mga namatay. Maging ang ilang frontliner ay nahahawa na rin. Seryoso at nakakabahala ang impormasyong ito at kailangan ang mabilis na pagtugon ng pamahalaan. Sa China, kaya lumala ang krisis dahil hindi nagsabi ng totoo sa nangyari ang kanilang gobyerno. Kaya ang tanging panlaban lang ng publiko ay manatili sa loob ng bahay, magsuot ng mask at maghugas ng kamay, mag-ehersisyo at kumain ng masusustansyang pagkain para mapanatiling malakas ang ating immune system. Maging tapat para di na kumalat. Naghihintay kami @secduque. Ano ang totoong situwasyon sa Pilipinas? Bakit kailangan na hindi na i-census o bilangin ang mga namatay sa Covid 19? Maraming salamat po. #magingtapat #covid19
Clavio then shared screenshots of the social media posts of Nerissa Crystal Songcuan, the chief resident of EAMC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratories, calling for cadaver or body bag donations.
He also attached a screenshot of a letter from Songcuan addressed to Sen. Bong Go’s office asking the senator for at least 50 cadaver bags.
When the reporters asked him about this letter, Clavio said he had already referred this request to those willing to help the EAMC.
“Nirefer ko lang sa gusto tumulong, ginawan ng paraan, nabigyan [ng] body bag. Tulong lang tayo, kung ano man hingin na tulong basta kaya lang,” Go said.
When the hospital’s management was asked of the body bag shortage and the supposed order to stop counting the COVID-19 deaths, EAMC spokesperson Dr. Dennis Ordoña denied Clavio’s claims.
Ordoña, however, admitted that there is a pileup of cadavers recently due to the lack of space in the morgue, which can only store up to five bodies. They recently experienced a total of 20 cadavers which were not picked up for days.
As of last Saturday, the number of bodies decreased to 6.
“We’re actually looking for a portable morgue kung saan pwedeng ilagay ’yung freezer na ito. We’re actually looking for rentals. S’yempre merong donors, highly appreciated,” Ordoña said.
The hospital did not have freezers because in the past, bodies were immediately picked up by relatives.
“Ang mga pamilya hindi rin agresibo na mag-check o asikasuhin ’yung remains ng kanilang kamag-anak,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, the DOH reported that a total of 18 COVID-19 patients have died bringing the total number of the deceased to 315.
The DOH said the total of confirmed COVID-19 cases is now at 4,932. Of which, 242 patients have recovered.