MANILA - Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla on Wednesday issued a public apology for being tested for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) despite a Department of Health (DOH) policy that only the elderly and patients showing symptoms of the disease should be swabbed due to the lack of testing kits in the country.
Remulla said he was checked for symptoms in a COVID-19-related meeting and "came out clean," but he decided to be tested for the disease after learning that one of his co-participants showed signs of infection.
"There's a protocol and triage algorithm set by DOH that I may have skipped... I would like to apologize and I promise never to take advantage of my position again," Remulla said in a statement posted on his official Twitter page.
"I take full responsibility if you think I took advantage of my position," he said.
The governor's apology came after netizens criticized government officials for taking the test despite being asymptomatic, while health workers and patients who have been suffering from high fever, cough, colds and other symptoms of the disease are made to wait in hospitals due to the lack of COVID-19 testing kits.
Other asymptomatic personalities who tested for the disease include President Rodrigo Duterte and his family, some senators, and local officials.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier explained it was "important" to ensure that key government officials remain healthy to "do our [their] work" of running the country.
"Health stability of key government officials is most important for the country," Sotto told ABS-CBN News.
A Senate inquiry earlier found that the DOH only had 2,000 COVID-19 testing kits less than a week before the Philippines was placed under a state of public health emergency due to the rapid spread of the virus.
As of March 18, 202 patients tested positive for COVID-19, while hundreds remain as persons under investigation or persons under monitoring due to the government's inability to provide testing kits to confirm if they are carriers of the disease.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila has donated 2,000 testing kits, while Alibaba founder and philanthropist Jack Ma has committed to send another 50,000 units to the Philippines.