Presidential spokesman Harry Roque clarified his statement yesterday that the government has no plans yet to conduct mass testing and that it would just leave the burden to the private sector.
Roque insisted the government target to test 1.5 to 2 percent of the Philippines’ almost 100 million population.
The Palace spokesperson defended his statement was “taken out of context” as he stressed that the government is now implementing “expanded testing.”
“It’s not accurate [to say] that we do not have a mass testing policy. Let me underscore the following, number one: no country in the world tests every citizen, that’s a fact,” Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
“So what we are doing is to follow the best examples we have. Right now, we are trying to follow the footsteps of South Korea, and right now, the goal is to test 1.5 to 2 percent of the total population,” Roque added.
COVID-19 mass testing in the Philippines
The 1.5 to 2 percent is equivalent to 1,650,000 to 2,200,000 Filipinos needed to be tested, given the country’s population is about 110 million.
However, the government has so far tested 207,823 individuals, which is only 0.19 percent of the total population.
The Palace also claimed the country has “one of the stringiest testing measures” when it comes to testing OFWs and returning citizens.
Roque boasted that all Filipinos returning home are mandated to take PCR-based testing, unlike other countries that are only testing those showing symptoms.
“All OFWs are subject, in fact, to PCR testing, not just antibody testing whereas in other countries they only test those who have symptoms. But in the Philippines, every OFW that comes home would have to be tested by PCR,” Roque said.
The government aims to conduct 30,000 COVID-19 tests daily by the end of May after they failed to achieve 8,000 daily tests by the end of April.
As of May 18, the Philippines has recorded 12, 718 confirmed cases, 831 deaths, and 2, 729 recoveries.