Department of Health

‘False’ COVID-19 test results probed

September 20, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 403 views

THE Department of Health (DoH) is now investigating the alleged coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) false positive results in Subic by a laboratory of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

This was raised by Deputy Speaker and SAGIP party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta during the resumption of the House committee on good government and public accountability hearing chaired by DIWA party-list Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay into the controversial government’s procurement of pandemic items.

Marcoleta said 44 out of 49 health personnel who were tested positive in PRC laboratory for (COVID-19) on September 3, 2021 during the initial test were declared negative from the virus after the retest.

“It’s about a certain number of personnel in a hospital in Subic who were tested positive by the PRC laboratory in Subic. They are all vaccinated staff of the hospitals and because they doubt the result that they will become positive, they have themselves retested on September 6, nangyari po ito September 3 eh.” Marcoleta said.

“After three days, they have themselves retested in another facility and 44 out of 49 false positive, nag-negative silang lahat,” Marcoleta added.

Health Sec. Francisco Duque said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is now investigating the issue raised by Marcoleta.

“I have with me the actual communication coming from a complainant, but who has requested anonymity. But, I do confirm that there is that complaint which is being investigated now by the Lab Network, headed by Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago, whom I believe relayed to the RITM to do an evaluation or assessment of this complaint,” Duque said.

Duque said the RITM will forward the result of its evaluation to the Health Facility Service Regulatory Bureau which in turn will determine possible sanctions and actions to be taken to avert similar incidents in the future.

NO OVERPRICING UNDER BAYANIHAN 1 

Marcoleta said the procurement of pandemic items by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) was above board and legal under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act or Bayanihan 1 that authorized the President to expeditiously transact thru exemption from Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Responding to Marcoleta, former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Lao said they prefer the procurement of pandemic items that are readily available.

Lao underscored the need to immediately deliver the pandemic items to strengthen the government’s fight against COVID-19.

Former PS-DBM Director Warren Liong also told the hearing that emergency procurement of pandemic items is very important because of the limited or absence of supplies.

In his power point presentation, Liong said some exemptions in the procurement of pandemic items under the Bayanihan 1 include doing away with the mayor’s permit and income tax return and allowing a verbal transaction.

DTI SAYS PROCURED MASKS BELOW PRICE CEILING

It was learned upon questioning of Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel  that facemasks bought by PS-DBM to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation were lower than the price monitoring of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Trade Asec. Anne Claire Cabochan said the department has started monitoring the price of face masks way back in January 2020 when Taal Volcano started exploding.

In their price monitoring based on DoH’s price cap, Cabochan said the price of each N95 mask is between P105 to P120.

Pimentel said the P27.72 per face mask that PS-DBM procured to Pharmally is at low and reasonable price compared to the existing price ceiling.

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