Palace denies Duterte realized importance of COVID-19 testing too late

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2020 02:36 PM | Updated as of Dec 08 2020 03:06 PM

Palace denies Duterte realized importance of COVID-19 testing too late 1
President Rodrigo Duterte gives a public address after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on Dec. 7, 2020. Presidential Photo

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has long known that testing for the novel coronavirus is important, Malacañang said Tuesday, denying that the Chief Executive had realized this too late, nearly 9 months into the pandemic.

In a speech on Monday night, Duterte said, "Alam mo, ang importante pala, sa totoo lang, and I realize now, it’s the testing—‘yung swabbing pati ‘yung test."

(You know, what is important, in truth, and I realize now, it's the testing—the swabbing and the test.)

Asked if this remark meant that the President belatedly came to the realization, his spokesman Harry Roque said, "Hindi po totoo iyan, sa mula't mula po ang ating prayoridad ay i-improve ang ating testing capacity."

(That is not true, from the very start, our priority is to improve our testing capacity.)

Video courtesy of PTV

The President on Monday directed the health department to come up with a program that would give free COVID-19 testing to Filipinos.

State medical insurer PhilHealth is shouldering the cost of its members' tests, said Roque.

The Philippines as of Monday has tallied about 441,000 coronavirus infections.