Two years of the pandemic would have been enough for the Philippine government to prepare for mass testing to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday, January 9, 2022.
“Iyong sa akin lang, dalawang taon na iyong COVID, dapat sana by this time, iba na iyong mga problema natin, [It’s just me, you’ve been COVID for two years, I should have by this time, our problems are different,]” she said on his weekly radio show on dzXL.
Government officials have shrugged calls for free mass testing because they do not have enough funds to cover the tests. The 2022 Philippine national budget of P5.024 trillion has no allocation for free COVID-19 testing.
Robredo lamented that the meaning of mass testing is still debated today. For government officials, mass testing counts as testing the entire 110 million population as its callers want to launch it in high-risk areas only.
“Dapat sana, by this time, hindi na natin problema iyong testing. Dapat, by this time, hindi na natin problema iyong bakuna. Dapat, by this time, hindi na natin problema iyong contact tracing, iyong mga isolation centers. Kasi enough time to prepare tayo, [I hope, by this time, we don’t have a problem with testing. We should, by this time, no longer have a problem with your vaccine. We should, by this time, no longer have a problem with your contact tracing, your isolation centers. Because we have enough time to prepare,]” said Robredo.
The Vice President stressed that the government is only looking for a “justification” why it cannot provide free testing to COVID even though it has been almost two years since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID as a global pandemic.
Antigen tests cost approximately P1,000 while RT-PCR tests, the health professional worldwide, cost from approximately P3,000 to P7,000.
“Sobra halaga ng testing kasi ito yun magiging basis kung kailangan mong mag-quarantine, kailangan mong mag-isolate, [It’s too much testing because it will be the basis if you have to quarantine, you have to isolate,]” said Robredo that even his daughter Tricia tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2021.