Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) staff revealed that at least 34 government officials and their family members demanded to get VIP testing for COVID-19. At the same time, symptomatic persons under investigation (PUIs) waited to be tested for the virus.
The staff said most of the public officials and their family members are asymptomatic or did not show symptoms of the deadly disease.
Two RITM staffers said the VIP testing is the reason why the results of now-deceased 34-year-old adult cardiology fellow Israel Bactol was delayed by four days.
They said the government officials “ordered” the results of their COVID-19 tests to be ready within 24 hours. The young doctor died on March 21.
One of the RITM staff said that the government officials “sent their [swab] samples to RITM with instructions to prioritize them despite standing DOH guidelines stating that one should not be tested if he or she is asymptomatic.
“The opportunity to test more PUIs is wasted. It’s okay if only one official will be tested, but they include all family members,” the staffer said.
Asymptomatic gov’t officials and their family get VIP testing
The RITM employee said VIP tests “were stopped because word had reached ordinary people who complained … But the VIPs’ [swab] samples were still there, side by side with those of actual PUIs.”
A list sent to the Inquirer included the names of Sen. Richard Gordon and family, Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and wife Fernanda, Philippine National Police chief Archie Gamboa and wife Rozanne, Sen. Grace Poe, Sen. Pia Cayetano, former first lady Imelda Marcos and Sen. Francis Tolentino.
Health Secretary Duque came under fire after a document he signed replacing current RITM chief circulated online. Netizens speculated Doctor Celia Carlos was being replaced because she resisted the VIP testing.
However, Duque clarified Carlos would stay as the RITM director and that he corrected the memo already.