Malacañang on Thursday explained why the security team of President Rodrigo Duterte requires anyone who wants to meet with him to undergo COVID-19 rapid testing.
Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque justified that protecting the life of the President is crucial as he leads the Philippines during this time of pandemic crisis.
“We make no apologies for the fact that we are protecting the life of the President. Gagamitin po natin ang lahat ng resources na kaya nating gamitin para protektahan ang Presidente [We will use all resources that we could use to protect the President],” Roque said in a televised briefing.
Presidential Security Group (PSG) commander Jesus Durante III said on Wednesday said nobody is exempted from the rapid testing, specifically the high ranking government officials, PSG troopers, and close-in personnel who always accompany President Duterte.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles were among those who underwent COVID-19 rapid testing before they were allowed to enter the Palace.
COVID-19 rapid testing required for anyone seeking to meet Duterte
“Those found positive during the rapid tests will not be allowed to enter the facility. Much more if the concerned party manifests fever and other symptoms related to COVID-19,” Durante said.
Health experts said that PCR-based test kits remain the “gold standard” since these can detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the deadly respiratory diseases.
Rapid test kits, on the other hand, can only detect the antibodies produced by the body to fight the virus. They are prone to yield false negatives or false positives result even if they are faster than PCR-based kits.
Durante said the PSG would not claim that the results of the rapid tests are definite and absolute. The results would be subject to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine’s PCR tests for confirmation.
“Let’s just say that we’re hoping that the President is more protected using rapid testing because in the first place. [the] PSG will not allow anyone with symptoms to come into the Palace,” Roque said.
A rapid antibody test kit (RATKs) could cost about P1,000 pesos each.