Palace expects SC to dismiss petition on free COVID-19 mass testing

Malacañang is optimistic that the Supreme Court will dismiss the petition asking the government to conduct free mass testing for the coronavirus.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (RESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government has implemented targeted testing and will even further expand the program to cover asymptomatic individuals.

"Ibabasura po iyan ng Korte Suprema kasi sa mula’t mula po, mayroon po talaga tayong programa na targeted testing (The Supreme Court will junk that because from the start, we really have a program on targeted testing)," he said during the Laging Handa public briefing Friday. 

Roque said the country so far has more than 70 testing laboratories, compared to just one facility at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in the country in late January this year.

With the purchase of additional test kits and accreditation of more laboratories, he said the testing efforts could be further expanded to cover more segments of the population, including other frontliners, workers, and those who don’t show any symptoms.

"Ipapatupad na po ang mas malawakan pang expanded testing natin going beyond the existing protocols na iyong mga  symptomatic lamang at iyong mga nagkaroon ng contact sa mga COVID positive ang isasama sa expanded testing  (We will implement expanded testing going beyond the existing protocols that covered symptomatic and those with close contacts with COVID positive)," he said.

"Ngayon po, isasama na rin natin ang mga asymptomatic, iyong mga manggagawa, iyong iba pang mga frontliners kagaya ng media (Now, we will include the asymptomatic, the workers and other frontliners like the media)," eh said.

He said the final guidelines for the testing strategy will be issued by the National Task Force on the government's coronavirus repose and the Department of Health.

A group that included former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo has asked the Supreme Court to compel the government to conduct coronavirus testing, scale up contact tracing, and release accurate and timely information on the country's health situation.

The petitioners argued that the government lacks proper grounds for its policy pronouncements without accurate and timely information on the extent of the outbreak.