Juxtaposed: Transparency in Palace spox’s and Pasig mayor’s swab test results

March 16, 2021 - 9:43 PM
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Roque and Sotto
Composite photo: Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (Handout images)

Filipinos on social media are asking for proof of the presidential spokesperson’s swab test results, but the calls were met with rejection.

This was after Secretary Harry Roque announced at a briefing on Monday that he contracted the virus which causes COVID-19.

The Palace official added that he was tested on Sunday as part of his “routine” before his regular attendance at the weekly Cabinet meeting.

He also bared having undergone 35 RT-PCR tests (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or swab test) in the past year since he was reappointed as President Duterte’s spokesperson.

“So, talagang it came as a surprise and a shock, it’s not just a shock na after about 35 tests eh nag-positive tayo. Pero sa akin po, almost routine na ito na on a Sunday afternoon, preparatory to the Monday evening meeting with the President, nagpapakuha na ng RT-PCR test,” Roque said.

Roque noted that he is asymptomatic and had been self-isolating in the office.

READ: How much do 35 COVID-19 swab tests cost? Filipinos compute as Palace spox bares test ‘routine’

On the same day, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto went on self-quarantine after exposure to a COVID-19 patient. After receiving the swab test results, he later informed his constituents that he did not contract the contagious disease.

A transparency advocate, Sotto posted a screenshot of his RT-PCR test which he took at the Pasig City Children’s Hospital.

“NEGATIVE ang result ng PCR test ko. Negative din yung nakasama namin sa sasakyan. Thank you for your messages and prayers. Let’s all do our part to prevent the spread of this virus and its variants,” he said.

Sotto was referring to his staff members. They were exposed to their long-time driver Kuya Vener who succumbed to the disease Saturday, March 13.

Sotto added that all his close contacts immediately took swab tests.

“Following DOH protocol, I will be in QUARANTINE until MARCH 24 (two weeks from when he last drove for me). I will continue working via zoom and phone. Na-PCR test na rin kaming mga close contacts. Mamayang hapon ang resulta. ‘Wag mag-alala ok naman po kaming lahat. Walang sintomas,” Sotto said before.

Since both Sotto and Roque announced going on quarantine on the same day, some Filipinos on social media inquired why Roque, unlike Sotto, did not post his test result.

“Harry Roque, kayo naman po. Test result reveal din,” one user wrote.

“Show us the test result na positive ka. Otherwise moro moro mo lang ito,” another user said.

Others even voiced a theory that Roque contracted the virus after Philippine National Police Debold Sinas was infected. Sinas issued the announcement last week, on March 11.

“So after Sinas, Roque test positive for COVID-19. Part of me is asking: is that true? Or para makaiwas lang sa issues?” one user said.

Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez also commented about the matter in his personal Twitter account.

“Testing positive for COVID-19 has got to be the weirdest flex ever. #justsaying,” Jimenez said. 

Both Roque and Sinas were panned after committing quarantine violations last year.

At a briefing on Tuesday however, the presidential spokesperson refused to post the document showing his positive test result, arguing it was unnecessary.

“Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit kailangan ipakita. I don’t think it’s important,” he said.