Duterte adviser rips at rapid test critics: PH can't afford another lockdown

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2020 04:05 PM | Updated as of May 20 2020 09:09 PM

Duterte adviser rips at rapid test critics: PH can't afford another lockdown 1
President Rodrigo Duterte chats with Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion on the sidelines of the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit (FES10) at the World Trade Center in Pasay City on March 6, 2018. Albert Alcain, Malacanang Photo

MANILA (UPDATE) - Doctors who complain about the use of rapid COVID-19 tests are a "problem," an adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday as he warned that a return to a strict lockdown would destroy the economy.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion made the remark after several doctors associations said Tuesday they would not recommend rapid antibody tests to screen employees returning to work.

"We cannot afford another lockdown. My appeal to all of these doctors, if you have a better alternative, why don’t you tell us that better alternative?” he said.

The rapid tests need PCR or polymerase chain reaction tests before the findings are considered conclusive. The PCR test takes longer to process.

“Problema nitong mga doctor, salita nang salita, wala namang ginagawa. Complain nang complain. Ang mangyari dito kung magsasarado ulit yung ekonomiya ng Pilipinas? Maraming mawawalan ng trabaho. Ang dami 'yan,” he said.

(The problem with these doctors is that they keep on talking but they do nothing. They keep on complaining. If we close the economy again, many people will lose jobs.)

"Itong mga grupo na ito, ingay ng ingay wala namang ginagawa so anong gagawin ng buong private sector? Maglo-lockdown tayo ulit? Pag nag-lockdown tayo ulit masisira buong economy niyan," he added.

(These groups keep on making noise without doing anything. What will the private sector do? Another lockdown? If we do that, the economy would be ruined.)

The private sector is limited to using rapid test kits since there are not enough PCR test kits available.

"Ito lang ang puwede naming gawin, itong rapid test, kung mayroon silang ibang test na puwedeng gawin, gagamitin namin pero 'yung PCR paano namin gagamitin kung wala namang capacity ngayon," he said.

(This is the only thing we can do. If there is another test that we could do, we would use it but how would we use PCR if there is not enough capacity?)

Concepcion also appealed for a balance on health and re-opening the economy as he defended the use of rapid test kits, saying "it is better to test than not to test."

The presidential adviser later apologized to doctors and other medical frontliners, saying he has "nothing but the utmost gratitude and admiration" for them "who continue to do a great service for our country during this crisis."

"... I apologize if my words were perceived to criticize doctors in general. I hope we will be united in our efforts. With this, I extend my deepest thanks to all frontliners that continue to go beyond the call of duty for our people. We can and we will heal as one," Concepcion said in a statement.

The Philippines placed Metro Manila and surrounding provinces under a modified ECQ or enhanced community quarantine, easing the lockdown of millions of people for the first time in 2 months.

The modified ECQ is a prelude to the GCQ or general community quarantine, which will allow more businesses to reopen.