Since March, Filipinos had restlessly called out for mass testing on social media especially when the Department of Health announced that the first local transmission of the COVID-19 disease was confirmed.
Once again the government failed its promise when Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the government still had no plans to carry out mass testing to detect COVID-19 cases and the authorities will leave such efforts in the hands of private sectors.
Netizens and celebrities were dismayed and reacted to the government’s response to COVID-19 testing in the country.
24 Oras anchor Atom Araullo, noted for his criticism of the Duterte administration, showed his dismay on Twitter at the government’s negligence during the pandemic.
“The lockdown was hard for everyone, especially the poor, but we accepted it as necessary because we simply did not have the capacity to test, trace, and isolate on a wide scale. Now that we’re slowly easing restrictions, it’s only fair to ask: where are we at now?”
The lockdown was hard for everyone, especially the poor, but we accepted it as necessary because we simply did not have the capacity to test, trace, and isolate on a wide scale. Now that we’re slowly easing restrictions, it’s only fair to ask: where are we at now?
— Atom Araullo (@atomaraullo) May 18, 2020
Dubbed as real-life Darna for her untiring charity work, Ange Locsin couldn’t believe that no mass testing will be conducted, “Misquote lang ba to? Kasi hindi ako makapaniwalang hindi tayo nagpre-prepare for mass testing na kailangang-kailangan ngayon.”
Misquote lang ba to? Kasi hindi ako makapaniwalang hindi tayo nagpre-prepare for mass testing na kailangang-kailangan ngayon pic.twitter.com/PdOsgoAKP1
— Angel Locsin (@143redangel) May 18, 2020
Angel then took it upon herself to initiate mass testing. She announced the launch of an old fundraising initiative to be able to purchase coronavirus test kits, called Shop & Share.
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To our friends and fellow artists, Hi. It’s been a while since we’ve done this — way back in 2009 in fact when we first put up Shop and Share to help those who were affected by Typhoon Ondoy. We had actors, singers and even basketball players donate personal items from designer bags, clothes, jerseys, jewelry, etc., and we auctioned them off on ebay, with all the proceeds going to the Philippine Red Cross. And, now, we humbly reach out again. These are hard times, truly frightening times for the Filipino people, especially with corona virus cases still on the rise. Many have been doing their part in trying to give hope or just to make each day easier for those who are in need. And the hard truth is they will remain in need as Covid-19 remains the invisible enemy amongst us changing our lives and sadly disrupting livelihoods. We would like to revisit the idea of artists coming together and helping those who need it the most. This time, with the funds we raise, we would like to purchase test kits and allow testing opportunities for the poorer sectors in the hopes of helping out in the efforts to provide mass testing in the country. Yes, in support of mass testing. Because in this way we can make a higher impact, by pushing the TEST-TRACE-ISOLATE/TREAT formula that is the only proven way to defeat the virus. If you are keen please do let us know. We do hope you can join us as we all work together to help flatten the curve in the Philippines in our little way. God Bless You, Team Shop & Share.
Miko Raval also stressed his disappointment saying that the Filipinos did their part by sacrificing their livelihood for two months due to Enhanced Community Quarantine, “We did our part by staying home and closed our business as well but after 2 months you’ll tell us walang program??? So what was the point of doing ECQ???”
We did our part by staying home and closed our business as well but after 2 months you'll tell us walang program??? So what was the point of doing ECQ??? 😡😡😡 https://t.co/A4exgaIlvv
— Miko Raval (@MikoRaval) May 18, 2020
Last April, the Philippine government announced that they were planning to start mass testing on April 14.
Presidential Peace Advisor Carlito Galvez said that they asked the Department of Health to speed up the accreditation of more coronavirus testing facilities.
“We’re also determined to fast track the accreditation of subnational laboratories so we can start the massive testing of the PUIs and the PUMs.
“We expect that by April 14 we should be able to start massive testing.”
But, unfortunately, after two long months of Enhanced Community Quarantine, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced in the Malacanang press briefing that the government still has no plans to carry out mass testing and that it is up to the private sector to carry out mass tests.
“As much as possible, ini-increase natin ang capacity ng testing kaya nga we’re aiming na aabot tayo sa 30,000 , pero in terms sa mass testing na ginagawa ng Wuhan na all 11 million , wala pa pong ganyang programa at iniiwan natin ‘yan sa pribadong sektor.”
He also said that it was incorrect to use the word “mass testing” because no nation could carry out the systematic testing of all its people.
“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na tinetest ang lahat ng kanilang mamamayan. Kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing.”
If the government raises money issues with testing costs, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) even approved the $1.5 billion loan to finance the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.
Last April, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa announced that it approved the loan to help the Philippine government finance the country’s health care system in its fight against the pandemic.
He even said that this is the largest budget support loan that the ADB has given the country,
“This assistance is our largest budget support loan to the Philippines ever and reflects our strong commitment to providing cornerstone assistance swiftly and effectively to help the country mitigate the pandemic’s devastating impact on Filipinos, particularly the poor and vulnerable, including women.”
Director Antoinette Jadaone, Mikoy Morales, Ria Atayde, and other celebrities also shared and reacted on the government’s announcement.
“Roque earlier admitted that the Philippines was slow to roll out testing efforts as government missed its original target to expand the capacity of local laboratories to run at least 8,000 tests per day by April 30. That goal has been raised to 30,000 daily tests by end-May.“ https://t.co/cqdj6NCsLQ
— Tonette, Tonette (@tonetjadaone) May 18, 2020
Haaaay… I kenat 😞 https://t.co/GzdxmSeDUm
— carmela brosas (@kbrosas) May 18, 2020
— Ria Atayde (@RiaAtayde) May 18, 2020
Sam Concepcion retweeting CNN Philippines’ tweet sarcastically thanked the government for this movement.
Thanks for the help! https://t.co/mIUcrJnYkw
— Sam Concepcion (@sam_concepcion) May 18, 2020
Why do we not have a budget for something that is probably the most significant thing right at this time of our lives? I don’t understand.
— DAWN CHANG (@thedawnchang) May 18, 2020
GARAPALANG PANGGAGAGO. https://t.co/Sm5oeX39bt
— Juan Miguel Severo 🏳️🌈 (@TheRainBro) May 18, 2020
ipatrend natin ang #MassTestingNowPH baka naman sakaling maawa po sila at marinig tayo. Wag tayo mawalan ng pag-asa ❤️☺️ Kahit sa simpleng tweet maaring makatulong tayo na maabot ang kanilang mabubuting puso 🙏🏻❤️
— Fifth Pagotan (@FifthSolomon) May 18, 2020
I dont need it. I'm healthy as a bull. kaso paano yung may symptoms? Yung walang pera pang test?
Not saying test all 100+ million citizens. What I'm saying is HAVE AVAILABLE TEST AREAS. MAKE IT FREE FOR THE POOR. Kung may pa cauldron tayo free test kits pa kay! #MassTestingNowPH
— Quest (@officialQUEST) May 18, 2020